Summary: The 2 priority purposes of the Church are to bring glory to God & to bring people to know God. Anything that gets in the way of that is just window dressing.
Question: What is the purpose of Church? What does it do for us / for the community?
Answers: Shouted out answers during the service included to share our faith, to bring glory to God, to be Jesus hands and feet.
The problem is what would God say should be our priorities, our purpose here in Sutton Coldfield? What would God say is the purpose of not just this Church but every Church.
There is a lovely story about Snoopy doing archery in the garden. He is firing arrows at a fence then walking up and painting a target around where the arrow that has landed. When asked about what he is doing he replies that this way he always hits the target!
Sometimes I wonder if God looks at us like we do Snoopy. Today we think about what I believe are God’s 2 main purposes for us here and indeed every single Church everywhere.
First we are to bring glory to God - Romans 15:1-13
God’s purpose for all Churches is that we would work together to make a joyful united wonderful sound that brings glory to God. Paul says in Romans 15:5f
‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus , so that with one heart and mind you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’
The first, foremost and absolutely overriding reason for being Church must be this - to bring glory to God the Father. According to this verse this bringing of glory depends on us being one. Paul is saying we can only achieve this honouring of God by being unified / speaking with one clear voice.
There are echo’s for me here of the great commands in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5 ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ which Rabbi’s and later Jesus put with the teaching of Leviticus 19:18 ‘Love your neighbour as yourself ’to get the great commandment.
If we truly want to please God in Church then we do not do that by arguing and demanding our own way is followed. We do not bring glory to God by finding all sorts of reasons not to follow the leader God has called to lead, but instead only when we are unified and speak with one heart and voice and love our neighbours as we do ourselves.
This means hearing and valuing other people’s views as much as our own and not snipping about all the bits we personally don’t like.
So often we aren’t like that though are we? Our feelings run high, especially about worship and / or Church. Yet we have to listen to our God about this. If you ignore everything else the Spirit tries to teach us this year then listen and learn this - we are inter-dependant and we will simply not bless or bring glory to God unless we all pull together in the same direction.
We need one another, a bit like an Orchestra needs all the various instruments to work together and follow the conductor. Imagine how awful the noise would be if the 2nd violin or 1st trombone decided they want to set the tempo or volume instead of the 1st violin or conductor.
The Message translating this passage from Romans 15:5f hits on this musical theme and offers a wonderful insight into how you and I are supposed to be bringing glory to God. It says this:
‘May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!’
Now of course maturity isn’t the same thing as age – I have met some very immature pensioners and some mature teens. If we are growing with Jesus and gaining maturity then we will desire this unity like the very air we breathe.
When and only when we all work together will we be able to offer God this stunning anthem.
Imagine the sound even in our own band here if the flutes decide they will only play if they can star, or the drummers demanded to play very loud all of the time.
What they are called to create is a Symphony, a very important word in the life of the Church. Symphony means to make a harmonious noise, to act harmoniously together, and that is what we are called by God to be here at South Parade. To be in unison and harmony so that together with one heart and mouth we bring glory to God, not a cacophony of terrible proportions.