(A few years ago, my friend and colleague, Jerry Pillay, wrote this devotion for the Month of Mission. It really says it well...)
|In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established |
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
3 Many peoples will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths."
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah2:2-3)
The Church, unlike Israel's failure, should be an attractive signpost to God
The above verses capture the prophet's vision of Israel as the place that will draw God's people together. Israel was chosen for God's purpose: to become a light and signpost to the world of God's presence and hope. God walked with her, brought her out of bondage and hopelessness. But Israel seems to have forgotten that so quickly. She wants to give in to her own desires and wants -- forsaking God rather than following God.
The church today has become like the people of Israel refusing to follow our Lord. We want to go our own way, seeking our own agenda and attempting to satisfy ourselves. We need to stop and ask: "What does the Lord want? How can we fulfil God's purpose?" The Christian church is called to proclaim God's grace and saving love in Jesus Christ to the world. When we fail to maintain our purpose then we lose the value of our message and existence.
We stand at the crossroads of a new world order, economic divides between the rich and the poor, immorality, poverty, HIV, a sexual revolution, secularization, religious pluralism, political corruption, abuse of women and children, gender discrimination and the list goes on. How does the church respond to all these? We need to be brought back to our real purpose as church. We need to proclaim the Risen Christ! We do that best when we are led back to the cross. Why? The cross and the resurrection speak of life, hope and victory in the midst of despair, defeat and death. More significantly the cross speaks of suffering love, grace, forgiveness and restoration. It reminds us that Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it. So our task as church is to reach out to the suffering, sin-sick and lost world and to bring it into the love, grace and peace of Jesus Christ. We must follow the example of our Lord in suffering-love, humility and grace.
The Church as apostolic tells us that it is a 'called out and sent out community'. We are called by our Triune God, blessed by his presence and sent out to call and bless others in His name. We come so that we may 'go and make disciples'. The church does not exist just for believers; it actually exists for the world: A signpost to lead others to Jesus. The apostolic dimension reminds us that we are a missionary church, the people of God constantly on the march for God. In the words of John Calvin, the church is the 'theatre of God's glory'.
Well.... are we?
May the Church, unlike Israel, be a signpost to the Glory of God!
Jerry Pillay teaches Church History and is the Dean of the Theology Faculty at the University of Pretoria and he is also served as the President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. He is devoted to God, his family, church, students and research.