The Deliberate God-Glorifying Church
Has something ever just resonated with you? You hear an idea that from the minute you hear it, the idea grabs your attention and holds it. In fact the idea begins stirring something inside your will and emotions until it motivates you to action. If nothing else you just want to just stand and say “that is right!” As I have been preparing our services for Wednesday Nights studying our church covenant, I quoted from John 13:34-35 and since then what Jesus said in that passage has resonated with me. It’s just right that all people should know we are Christians by our love for one another. When something resonates in this way the only question you may have is how do I best do that?
Almost as if on cue, I picked up Mark Dever’s little book A Display of God’s Glory to help prepare for our Deacon Ordination service. The message of this book makes clear that it is the church who best displays our love one for another. Dever presents the local church or congregation as the proving ground for where a lost world discovers that we “are not simply having [our] personal devotionals with lots of other people. No, [we] are participating in the life of a particular church. And when Christians gather as a congregation it is not merely as individual consumers who happen, by temporarily shared tastes, to be in the same room.” Self-interest is opposed to God’s glory, therefore we must lay aside our self-interest for what matters to Christ. Christ tells us in the verses above, that loving others just as he loved us is what matters to him. We must come together as a church forgiving disputes, forging common beliefs, fostering discipline in common practices, in sum putting the church ahead of me just as Jesus did. This is why in the church our leaders are not dictators but servants. Deacons serve in deeds promote unity, meet needs, and serve the Elders. Elders serve by delivering to us the Word of God transforms us into a more godly people.
Then as I picked up another of Dever’s books, written with Paul Alexander, to read this weekend the same theme showed up. In The Deliberate Church these men attempt to share how a church becomes intentional about loving one another and sharing that love with the world. The emphasis is on creating a church that is careful to make sure that it is God’s Word which organizes our church. Why? So that our church glorifies Him not the methods, people, music, non-biblical messages, or gimmicks we could use instead. Since God’s Word tells us what we must deliberately be as a church, God’s people must be very careful then to offer distinctives not found in its pages. In our leadership, our conduct, our worship, our evangelism, our way to accept members, or our way to discipline and hopefully restore a member we must remember that “the church itself is God’s evangelism program. The mutually loving relationships in the church are designed by God to be attractive to an unbelieving culture.” This is my dream for our church and why John 13:34-35 resonates so much in my heart.