Summary: The Purpose of the Christian, the Church and the Denomination
April 15, 2007
Julie, Bob, Lee and I are still feeling the spiritual high from District Assembly. I think we all agree that things are in good hands. Our District Superintendent is a doing a great job. He no longer is a rookie. He’s into his second year and I feel good about the future with him at the helm.
Our General Superintendent, Dr. Jerry Porter, whom Julie met when she was a student missionary in Puerto Rico, when she was 20 or so, -he was a teenager, is doing a great job, too. There seems to be a clarity of mission I’ve never noticed before. There’s a new debt of understanding that I like. There is a passion for the Lord with real practical wisdom that is wonderful.
One of the things I really liked was the emphasis on “purpose”. Purpose is very important to me. It’s why I came to the Lord way back in 1971. Fresh out of the army; wounded by a sinful lifestyle; angry, disappointed, lonely, aimless – I was looking for a reason to live – or die. I found the reason to live in the bible. It was in the book of Ephesians that I found my purpose for life. It said,
“Because of his (Jesus’) kindness, you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves; it too is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good we have done, so none of us can take any credit for it. It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.” Eph 2:8-10 (Living)
Most people read the 8th and 9th verses and stop there. We ARE saved by grace through faith. It IS a free gift from God. But saved for what? Some people think it is a ticket to heaven and permission to live any way they want. But we are saved for a purpose. God has a plan for our lives. And these lives are not to be wasted or used up on ourselves. It is God’s plan that after we are saved, we are to use our lives for the good of others. I don’t know about you, but before I came to Jesus, I only thought about me and pleasing me. Woe to the person who got in the way of what I thought was good for me.
It didn’t take long to realize that self-centered living results in pain. We were not created to be the center of the universe. We were created in God’s image for a loving relationship with Him. Adam and Eve had that relationship and fulfilled that purpose until they fell. From that time on it has been God’s purpose to save us from our self-destructive ways and to help us regain that image of God. Paul wrote:
“… we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.” 2 Cor 3:18 (Living)
“For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him…should become like his Son” Romans 8:29 (Living)
When we come to Jesus, one of the first things we learn is that we need to change. We need to become more like Jesus. And part of that change is to accept the purpose God has for our lives. And that is to spend our lives in helping others. What are we to help them do? Well the first thing is to help them become a disciple of Jesus. And that is where the church comes in. We are to be a part of the church so the church can help us fulfill our purpose. I am glad God led me to the Nazarene Denomination. I won’t go into how He did that – but I clearly know God wanted me to be a Nazarene. One of the reasons is the purpose of the Nazarene Church. The Purpose of the Church of the Nazarene is this: “To make Christ-like disciples in the nations”. I like that, don’t you?
The Church of the Nazarene is in 151 world areas so the statement of purpose needed to be brief and understandable in many cultures and languages. I think it is. And for the more than a million and half members it says, “This is what we are about”. “This is what we stand for.” “This is what we believe”.
First of all, we need to be disciples who make disciples. Do you know that there are a lot of people who call themselves “Christian” and “Disciples of Christ” who have no interest in accomplishing that purpose? They make no effort to make disciples. Now, you need to know that there is a huge system and many methods behind that simple statement. There are many ways to make disciples and many things we can do to have a part in that. I won’t go into all that this morning, but the part I want to impress on you is that we need to have it in our hearts and burned into our brains that THIS is what we are all about. We are all about making disciples.