(Part 2)

Is The Church On Life Support?

This section defines the purpose of the church and its mandate from Christ.

2 A. What is the purpose of the church?

This question is actually a two part question that must be clarified individually by defining the purpose and the role of the church. The purpose of the Church is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ through the spreading of His love, teachings of His truth and the growing of its membership by making disciples. Otherwise known as the great commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) The Church, the body of regenerated believers, is also called to be the unified body of Christ through the breaking of bread, fellowship, training and prayer for both those that are within the body and the lost. (Ephesian 4:1-3) (Acts 2:42) The ekklesia is called to exemplify the character of Christ not just in the edifices on Sunday, but in word and deeds everyday.

2 B.  What is the role of the church?

The role of the Church is to be the S.A.L.T. as defined by Jesus in His sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Allow me, if you will, to spend a little more time “unpacking” the role of the church as it is essential to carrying out the mandate of Jesus Christ. Oftentimes, in many organizations, the vision or the purpose of the company is explained, but the role of the organization seems to be unclear, unspoken or unrealistic. Therefore the mission seems to be murky or unattainable by the people. Hence, it is critically important to clarify the role to ensure that the purpose is not sabotaged. When it comes down to the church’s role, it is best exemplified in Matthew 5 with Jesus delivering His sermon on the mount. One of the best illustrative sermons that I have heard on these scriptures was shared in a sermon series by Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.,  pastor of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden. The series was titled: “Pass the S.A.L.T.” The following outline is a modified and reconstructed version of the original series.

If the role of the church is to be the salt, what does it mean to be the light of the world? What does it demonstrate to be a city set on a hill that cannot be hidden? When a person gives their life to Christ they have an encounter with Christ that sets off a transformational experience. The metamorphosis begins with a choice to make a conversion in their life. The conversion is the adoption agreement between man/woman and Jesus to receive the promises of God. (John 14:6) Then once a person has become an ambassador for Christ they experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit against the things they use to do. Lastly, the expression of His love is demonstrated by the evidence of the S.A.L.T. To be clear, the church is to be the light everywhere throughout a dying world. Someone’s encounter with you should demonstrate the S.A.L.T (love of Christ) in you.

Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride, it is essential to human life and it is a mineral found in the human body. There are three primary purposes for salt: 1. Seasoning 2. Preservative 3. Catalyst. As a seasoning, salt pulls out the best of what it is added to. When used as a preservative it preserves the freshness in certain foods and keeps the food from decaying. Salt, in the body of Christ, in the same way preserves the truth. Lastly, salt is a catalyst for change. No matter what it’s added to it’s designed to enhance the flavor.

One of the sixty two million dollar questions is: Has the body of Christ, a.k.a. the “believers, Christians and disciples,” found themselves on life support because they have lost their salt? Have we lost our seasoning to pull out the best in a dying world? Are we not supposed to be the “called out ones” to preserve civil rights, speak out against social injustices and promote the living Gospel of Christ? Have we become a culture void of a moral compass? Has Christianity lost sight of its purpose, shifted its focus and ignored the role as the “Church”? Have we become smitten by the sensationalization of reality tv, the demonization of religion and the villainization of innocent black men and women? Should we ignore that we are to be catalysts for change and a city set on a hill? Should we forget about the poor? Have we placed more priority on the position and power of the person in the pulpit, over the significance of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Have we, as leaders, become complacent now that we have a mega church, drive a nice car and live beyond a gated community? Have we settled for less now that Islam is the leading religious affiliation for the first time in our countries history?

If we are ever going to be effective in spreading the salt, we must know the truth about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the S.A.L.T. Exemplification of the truth will require that we seek first the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 6:33) We must also be diligent in studying to

show thyself approved to God. (2 Timothy 2:15) For God is the giver of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6)  

The “S” in  S.A.L.T. stands for SERVE.

Our first synoptic look can be found in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus turns to address His disciples by reminding them that the “greatest amongst you will SERVE.” Jesus tells them if they want to stand out then they should step down and serve others. He goes on to say, those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those that humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23:11)

Our next example of serve can be found in the gospel according to the book of Luke where Jesus shares the parable of the good Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37) Here, in this example, Jesus tells the story of the man that was stripped of his clothing by the thieves, wounded and left for dead. Both the priest and the Levite who were first to uncover the man totally ignored his condition and left him for dead. Sadly, sometimes, the people you think will help you are the  ones that turn their nose up at you and leave you for dead. Instead, it was the good Samaritan that saw the man and came to his rescue.

In this story there are four C’s that we can glean on from the Samaritan.

  1. Character – Do you have the character of Christ? Character is not who you are necessarily when people are watching. Character is who you are when no one is looking and others are in need.
  2. Compassion – Do you have the compassion of Christ? The good Samaritan displayed the compassion of Christ to serve the man by bandaging up his wounds.
  3. Care – Do you care for others like Christ? He cared for the man in need by taking care of the man’s welfare.
  4. Cash – Do you value others like Christ? The Samaritan showed his value for the life of the man when he used his own denari to invest in a room for the man.

The “A” in S.A.L.T. stands for ACCOUNTABILITY.

Accountability is a word that starts with the letter A, but ends with the letter Y. Many have asked the question: Why do I need to be accountable to someone? The following five questions and answers will best answer this question.  

  • Why is accountability necessary? “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • Is the Church accountable for sharing the gospel with unbelievers? ”When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die’; and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 33:8)
  • Are we accountable for how we live our lives?So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
  • As leaders are we accountable for those we serve?Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Are unbelievers accountable for rejecting the gospel? “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:5)

God tells us that in order for us to prove that we are his disciples we must demonstrate love for one another. (John 13:35) He says to love Him is to obey Him. (John 14:15)

Be sure to check back for part 3 coming soon…

Credits:

Spiritual Guidance – Pastor Paul Sheppard

Spiritual Guidance – Dr. Mark Hanby

Acronym for S.A.L.T. and sermon notes – Pastor John K. Jenkins, Sr.

Accountability notes – Crystal McDowell

Cover Photo – Mark Corder

Editing – Charlotte Brigham