Do you go to church? If you do, why do you go? What do you think the purpose of the church is? Culture and religion have greatly affected people’s views of the church. Growing up in the church and observing it over the last five decades, I found differing opinions amongst those who led and attended. Some referred to it as “a soul-saving station,” while others felt it was “a hospital for the hurting.” It then moved on to being “Seeker sensitive.” Though these sound nice, shouldn’t we be looking at what Jesus said was the purpose of the church?
We have allowed culture and religion to both define and shape what the church has become. It began with wanting church growth which seemed like a good thing. We then began changing the “language” we used, how we dressed, and the length of the service so it wouldn’t feel like church. The was hope people would feel welcomed and come again because it didn’t disrupt their schedule too much. Then we changed the message and stopped preaching on subjects that might be too intrusive. Instead of teaching the whole truth with conviction, we left out all the “how to live a Biblically holy life” parts because we didn’t want people to feel judged.
But when the church forfeits her boundaries, she has lost her salt. She is no longer effective. In that environment, no one is correctible. Even those in leadership begin living without boundaries. Scripture is clear. The church belongs to God, and He corrects whom He loves. (Hebrews 12:6) God starts dealing with sin in His house first. (1 Peter 4:17)
So what is the purpose of the church? Jesus gave us the answer in Mark 11:17 (NKJV).
17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” (NKJV) Jesus said this after turning over the money changers’ tables and driving out all those who were selling their wares. But if we back up a few verses, we can see this picture more fully.
Mark 11:11 11 “And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.”
Jesus had taken a good look around at everything, but because it was late, he decided to deal with it the next day. Now let’s look at it in John 2:13-16. 13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!”
Jesus literally took all night to think about what He saw. He then made a whip while looking around and watching what they had turned His house into. And with righteous indignation, he cleaned His house.
Jesus had declared the “what” of the church’s purpose in Mark, but in Matthew, He tells us the why. Matthew 21:12-14 12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'”
14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them.
It is imperative that we get this right. If we want to help the sinner find salvation, the misunderstood find acceptance, the broken made whole, the bound find freedom, and the sick made well, we must keep the proper purpose of the church.
We can’t be led by the culture any longer. We must lead the culture. It’s time to bring back the salt. We must be praying, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” If there is going to be a revival, it must start in the church with its leaders. And when they are revived, they will lead the people into revival. We have allowed the unchurched world to lead the church for too long. It’s time for the called to take their place and lead with fire, conviction, and holiness. If we do, then the blind, the lame, and the lost will make their way back into the church and be saved, healed, and delivered.
We don’t have time to waste. Jesus is coming for a bride that is without spot or wrinkle. Let’s be the salt and light to a tasteless and dark world. This resurrection season, let’s be the revived.