Summary: The primary purpose of the church is win people to Jesus, baptize them into Christ and teach them what Jesus wants them to know. But how do we, as individual Christians go about doing that?
OPEN: Back in the 1960’s there was a young High School boy named John Baker who loved to run. In fact he loved running so much that his dream was to be on the High School track team. The only problem: the coach wasn’t interested. John was too short and too slight to be a runner. But John’s friend was built like a runner. In fact John’s friend was such a promising runner that the track coach heavily recruited him for the team. But THAT boy wasn’t interested. That was when John came up with his way to join the team: he promised the coach that if he’d let him run, he could convince his friend to join the team as well.
So John got on the team… and the team’s first race was a 1.7 mile cross country run through the hills of Alberquerque. Of course there were a number of other schools there for the meet, and so was the reigning state champion runner - Lloyd Goff. All eyes were on Goff as it seemed a foregone conclusion that Goff would win as he always had. So Lloyd led the pack as they disappeared over the hills. For the next few minutes, the spectators waited and watched ... and then, at last, they saw a lone figure running toward them.
They assumed it was Lloyd Goff. But it wasn’t. Guess who it was? That’s right, it was John Baker who led the pack. He not only won the meet that day, but he set a new meet record.
When asked how he was able to win, John said he asked himself a simple question “Am I doing my best?” Then he fixed his eyes on the runner ahead of him until he passed him, and then the next and the next until there was no one left.
Now HOW did John win that race? He won it by being focused. He focused on one runner at a time. He knew what he wanted to accomplish and he stayed on target until he crossed the finish line. (Dan Green “Finish Strong”)
In our text today Paul declared “I do not run aimlessly” (I Corinthians 9:26). In other words, Paul had his eyes focused on an objective. He had a goal. He had a purpose in mind.
So my question for you this morning is this: What is your goal as a Christian? What do you want to do for Jesus? What are you shooting for… for God?
Now for some folks, just getting to church on time on Sunday morning is a big priority. And I appreciate that! If you didn’t show up on Sunday mornings, I’d have no one to preach to - and that would be depressing. So I’m glad you’re here. But if that’s all we expect to do as Christians… we’ve missed the mark.
ILLUS: Too many Christians remind me of the London Bus Company several years ago. That Transit company was striving for efficiency. They made it their goal to always be on schedule. No other bus route in any other community seemed to even rival their efficiency.
So… how did they do it? How did they manage to keep such a tight schedule? Well, it seems that IF they were in danger of getting behind schedule, their drivers were instructed to simply to not stop at bus stops, even when there were people waiting there for the bus. As you can imagine, that made some customers fairly angry. But the London Transit Authority released this statement to explain why they didn’t always pick up waiting passengers at the bus stops: “It is impossible for us to maintain our schedules if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers.”
Now, what’s wrong with this picture? That’s right – a bus company does not exist in order to meet a schedule. The PURPOSE of the bus company is to pick people up and drop them off. In the same way our purpose – as Christians – is to pick people up and drop them off at the feet of Jesus.
Before Jesus left earth and returned to heaven -- gave the church our marching orders: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, TEACHING THEM to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
That’s our objective: win people, baptize them into Christ, and teach them to obey what Jesus wants of them. That is WHY we exist as a church. It’s just part of the deal. We gather together (at worship, in Sunday School classes, at in-home Bible studies, etc.) and our principle objective in doing this is so we can learn to make disciples, baptize them and then teach them about Jesus. If we’re not doing that, we’ve missed the point!