In Matthew 16, Christ made the prophetic declaration, “Upon this rock I will be my church.” Upon what rock? Upon the statement just uttered by Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” It is upon this truth, this foundation that the Church would be constructed. In times of grace, and through difficult times, Christ has faithfully continued to fulfill that promise.
“I will build my church.” Christ was building it for a reason. Obviously, the Church had a mission; even today the Church still has a mission. So, what is that purpose?
Certainly, we must hold the revealed word of God to be the counsel and authority of the Church; it is truth breathed by God. This is the only foundational basis for building a firm base. But, mission statements, or purpose statements can be helpful at times, because they reflect the core values of an organization or body. They are definitely secondary to scripture but they help us quickly determine our intent, and our focus, to determine if we are on track.
Personally, one of the many measures in which God poured out His divine grace was birthing me into a local church body which so exemplified this mission for Christ, to be the Church which so embraced this privileged partnership. I was blessed, truly blessed to be part of a church which held to a biblical model of purpose. I grew up with one of the best mission statements I know of:
We are to be a
WORSHIPPING community who
BUILDS mature disciples,
And, EVANGELIZES the lost,
All to the glory of God.
Many churches have some of these components woven into their mission statements, or as part of their core values. Love God, love people. Equip and send. The general idea is the same, but, to me, this statement so captures what we are to do as the redeemed of the Lord.
It is under the main umbrella of glorifying God that we are privileged to exist to be the Church which He has called us to be. If we as a Church are not in the mission of glorifying God, then we can pack it up and go home. God doesn’t need us for anything, but, we were created to glorify Him. We glorify him by revealing the unity He has given to us. We glorify Him in our words, our thoughts, and deeds. We glorify Him as we are His temple. We glorify Him in willful surrender to His authority.
The Church as the assembly of undeserving sinners, redeemed in Christ, is therefore the crowning display of God’s grace for all eternity. God has taken us, and redeemed us; He is restoring us to our former glory. In essence, He is utilizing the Church itself, empowered by the Holy Spirit to conform us, the great creation created in the image of God, the imago dei, into the image of Christ. As we build mature disciples, we move in that direction of faithfulness.
In obedience to the Great Commission we encourage others to partner with us, to join the family, and to grow in our journey of faith. We have never been consigned to walk this life alone. And, we are never to be complicit in leaving others behind.
In describing this level of faithfulness, there is a beautiful word picture captured in New Testament Greek; in the English it presents as a manner worthy. Such a beautiful phrase in the English, and only one word in the Greek–axios. We see it multiple times across several books and multiple authors. It communicates that the behavior embraced is equal to the standard declared…worthily. Yes, what an apt description of one who is called to called to follow Christ, a behavior fitting of one who calls themselves, “Christian.”
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…” (Ephesians 4:1).
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27).
“…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).
“…so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
It is a comparative picture.
As we have been called to redemption, let us walk in a manner worthy.
As we are recipients of the Gospel, let us behave in a manner worthy.
As we are to please Him in all respects and bear fruit, let us walk in a manner worthy.
As we have been called into God’s Kingdom and glory, let us walk in a manner worthy.
You get the picture? Because we identify ourselves as followers of Christ, let us walk axios. Our lives, in every capacity, individually and corporately, are to be walked in a fitting way which serves to bear witness to our faith.
As we “are a WORSHIPPING community who BUILDS mature disciples and, EVANGELIZES the lost, all to the glory of God” – we certainly walk in a manner worthy.
Help us, Lord.