What’s The Church Supposed To Do?

If you ask the church that I’ve spent most of my life in what their mission is they have a ready answer: preaching the gospel and preparing a people. I can’t speak for your churches, but I imagine many (perhaps even most) of them would also point to some version of what we call The Great Commission as their mission statement.

Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, 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 things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:18-20, WEB)

Is this a commission? yes, it’s “an instruction, command, or duty given to … group of people.” Is it great? since it came from Jesus and involves a responsibility given His disciples, yes. But is it really meant as the defining mission statement for the entire church from Jesus’ resurrection to His return? I’m not so sure.

What's The Church Supposed To Do? Looking At Scriptural Mission Statements For People Following Jesus | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo credit: Pearl via Lightstock

A Sobering Warning

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were the group He spent the most time criticizing and correcting. They professed to follow God’s highest standards but were in reality hypocrites. They did righteous looking things just to get attention (Matt. 23:5). They went to great lengths to convert people only to pervert their faith (Matt. 23:15). They placed too high an emphasis on money received as tithes and offerings (Matt. 23:16-19). They neglected the “weighty matters” of God’s law and instead followed their own traditions. They even turned the temple itself into a marketplace where they exploited people coming to worship God (John 2:14-16).

The scary thing is, these people honestly thought they were the most righteous God-followers out there. That serves as a warning today that church leaders and organizations have to be very careful where they place their focus. And so do we as individual members of Christ’s body.

A Greater “Commission”

We certainly shouldn’t ignore Christ’s instruction to go, disciple, baptize, and teach. But we need to make sure we’re thinking of that command from Matthew 28 in its proper context. Because there are two other commissions that Jesus plainly told us are His greatest commands. Read more

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The Meaning of the Resurrection

My churches have always taught the importance of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. I’ve even written about resurrection before, as part of the Foundations series. But I only focused on what the resurrection meant for individuals — that Christ’s resurrection makes our resurrections possible. I hadn’t really considered the implication of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection on the entire world today.

The Meaning of the Resurrection | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Image credit: “Sunrise Point” by Justin Fincher, CC BY via Flickr

Reading N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church has been eye-opening. He’s not really talking about things I’ve never heard before, but the way he frames his exegesis is making me think about Christ’s resurrection and the church’s mission at a depth I hadn’t pondered until now.

Wright places the resurrection in its historic context to show that what happened when Jesus rose from the grave three days after His Passover sacrifice was truly revolutionary. The Greek and Roman cultures believed in an immortal soul and the Jews believed in a resurrection, but no one was expecting Jesus (or anyone else) to rise from the dead in a renewed spiritual body. The risen Jesus was far too tangible and real to fit Greco-Roman ideas of afterlife and it was unexpected timing-wise from the Jewish perspective. This resurrection was sealed proof that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and that things on earth would never be the same again. Read more