Summary: Through Ezekiel the Prophet, God provides a certain destiny and purpose of the modern Christian church and most of us will probably be surprised to hear it.
In Alice in Wonderland, when Alice comes to a junction in the road that leads in different directions, she asks the Cheshire Cat,
"Cheshire-Puss...would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to go to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where," replied Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go."
As a church knowing our destiny is very important. It also matters a great deal that we agree on our destiny. Without such agreement we cannot come to unity: unity of destiny; unity of method; or unity of purpose. Have you ever stopped to consider what the destiny of your church is? Where are you headed? What do you plan to do when you get there? What do you aim to achieve along the way.
It matters a great deal but perhaps not in the way many of us believe that it does.
Ezekiel the Prophet writes in Chapter 36 about a day which neither he nor the Israelites can imagine. This is well before the day of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. The Day of Pentecost has not yet occurred and not in their wildest dreams would something like that happen. But when Jehovah speaks to Israel here He speaks to the coming day, a destiny, a day they know nothing of and we know everything of, or so we claim. Israel rejected Him because they did not recognize Him. What is our excuse?
God points His message to Israel as those placed by Him to serve His purpose. That, then also covers modern day Christians as well, those of us that claim adoption by the terms of Romans 8:15. And here in God’s instructions we discover the destiny of Israel and the Christian church.
First, by verse 22 and the first half of verse 23, the Church is not meant for the sake of the Believer.
Ezekiel 36:22 “Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. 23 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.
There are many pastors in America today that would be run out on a rail for suggesting from the pulpit that the church's first concern is not the membership. “What do you mean its not for us? We pay the bills around here, we do all the work, we should get our needs met first.” Well, they may not outright say it but its what many think.
God is plain through Ezekiel: He did not place Israel on the Earth for the purpose of serving the purpose of Israel. He put them here to prove Himself to those that have profaned the name of God through those that taught them how to profane the name of God. Got that?
Not only that but in the last part of verse 23, God offers Israel an option. This same option is available to the modern Christian church:
Ezekiel 36:23b Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
I can only think of 2 ways that God can prove His Holiness to non-believers:
1. He can bless us with strong families, good lives, abundance, and growth as a reward for our faithfulness. This would demonstrate to the masses that our God is a true God and submission to Him is the only key to real success.
2. He can publicly destroy us for our sins so that the masses will know that their sins have a price and will not go unpunished.
I suppose the good news is that every church still serves a purpose. The bad news is that not all of us want to go the way the road we are on is headed both as believers and as the Body of Christ. As one humorist put it, “you are never completely worthless as long as you can be used as a bad example.”
What is the Destiny of your church? Well, whose interest does it best serve? Any church that serves its on purpose is bound to be made into a bad example.
Churches that serve the body of Christ will be held up and rewarded to demonstrate the generosity and power of God. If your church doesn’t feel blessed and thriving, which path do you suppose you are on? If you don't feel thriving and blessed, what do you suppose the key is to returning to God's blessing?