June 5, 2023 | Jeff Meyer

One thing many local churches and the people in them have struggled with over the years, especially recently, is finding and defining their purpose. You don’t have to look far to see churches that seem to be looking toward culture to figure out not only what they should do, but how they should do it. Their desire is usually good – they want to be attractive. But sometimes, in their desire to be attractive, they begin to conform to the cultural expectations and start the slide into making the main point attraction rather than transformation. Misunderstanding our purpose leads to flailing around – following the culture and its priorities rather than leading the culture into new ones.

But it doesn’t stop with churches as a whole, it bleeds into the lives of individuals, and we begin to desire to be attractive. In doing so, we sometimes forget that being a Christian means living a life that is less and less conformed to the culture and more and more transformed away from the culture. And that thinking about ourselves even affects the way we view transformation. “How am I growing?”, “What am I learning?”, “How am I becoming more like Jesus?” All good questions for sure. We should be concerned with our individual growth and holiness. But too often it stops there.

Our purpose as Christians is so much more than “I”, in fact, the only real reason it is about “I” at all is because a bunch of “I’s” are required to make a “we.” God the Father, through the work of God the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit, has brought you from death to life, has declared you not guilty, has given you faith, and has adopted you into His family! And He didn’t do all of that simply so you can sit at home and watch Netflix while you wait to acquire your inheritance.

Your life is a story authored by God, and many characters live in it with you. Think about your life story and its many characters, its people. Think of the many ways you have been blessed, instructed, encouraged, and challenged by those people. Know that every single one of them was written into your story intentionally and purposefully, and if they happen to be Christians, they have a redemption story like yours too. And there they were, interacting with you instead of sitting at home watching Netflix waiting to acquire their inheritance.

God’s purpose in creation and redemption is to glorify Himself, and one way He does that is by making a people, not a bunch of disconnected individuals, but a people, a family, a nation, and a kingdom. Jesus is not merely building churches, He is building a church, His church, universal. His church is built on the foundation laid by the prophets and apostles with Jesus as its cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), and includes people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Revelation 14:6) regardless of skin color or economic status or lineage (Galatians 3:25-29). And He continues to use people like all of us, people whose hearts are prone to wander, people who sometimes need a nudge or a push or even a tow rope to pull us out of our comfort, to join Him in that work.

And to build His universal church, made up of many local churches, made up of many individual Christians, He has given each one of us individual Christians a purpose…

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

If you claim to be a Christian, do you also claim this command? You are to go and make disciples of all the nations and baptize them and teach them obedience, knowing that Jesus is always with you in your going and your making and your baptizing and your teaching. And this takes time, patience, and longsuffering. It takes leaving comfort and trusting in Jesus. It takes faithfulness, passion, and dedication. It takes not only knowing the word of God, but also knowing the gifts God has given you and using them to build others up. These things take commitment and sacrifice. They take investing, you investing in others (can you name them?) and others investing in you (can you name them?)

But we must be careful to stay in our lanes as we invest - our purpose is not to make Christians, that’s God’s job. He alone makes Christians. He calls them, He regenerates them, He adopts them. He joins them to the universal church. He changes their hearts, He shows them the beauty and majesty of Jesus. He alone grants the faith to reject so many other gods and turn to Him. He alone turns dead hearts of stone into living, beating, hearts of flesh. That is far beyond our pay grade. We are not the Holy Spirit, and we should all be thanking Him for that!

But even so, individually, we have been given the privilege to go and make these people, these Christians whom God has created, into mature disciples. By befriending them, spending time with them, building them up, teaching them, admonishing them, encouraging them, and equipping them to do the same. In short, by investing in them. So that the many individual “I’s” will become a worldwide and glorious “we.” Because “being a Christian” is ultimately not about us as individuals.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. - Galatians 2:20 ESV

And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. - Luke 10:2 ESV

It’s about loving the fact that you no longer live for yourself, but for Christ and others, even as Christ lives in you and is working in you as He builds His church by sending you into his harvest field. And it’s hard to be a worker in the harvest if you are simply admiring the field from the fence. Or the mirror. So, maybe instead of asking good questions like, “How am I growing?”, “What am I learning?”, “How am I becoming more like Jesus?”, we should ask better questions…

“Am I growing so that…”
“Am I learning so that…”
“Am I becoming more like Jesus so that…”

… so that I can be a useful tool in the hands of the God who is the Lord of the harvest, who commands me to invest in others by going and making disciples, the God who is always with me, who is building His church, who loved me and gave Himself as a ransom for me. Because the God who did all those things and is all those things, isn’t just that for you, but also for others like you all over the world. Others whose stories you are written into.

Are you merely growing, learning, and becoming more like Jesus, like wheat in the harvest field? Or are you growing, learning, and becoming so that?
… so that you aren’t merely a stalk of wheat.
… so that you are ready, willing, and able to be put to work in the field, investing in others, for their good and God’s glory.

Jeff Meyer