The Purpose Of Church
On Sunday December 19 the First Baptist Church of Dallas had a Christmas celebration during their service. According to Pastor Robert Jeffress, “The focus of the music and message this Sunday will be on the most important event in human history — the birth of Jesus Christ.” That is certainly what you would want to hear from any Christian church that is celebrating Christmas. The church will also be having a guest speaker…former president Donald Trump. That, however, has nothing to do with Christmas or being a christian. Jeffress has been a long time supporter and friend of Donald Trump. This will not be the first time he has spoken at the church. The pastor says that Mr. Trump will be attending because, “[he] is known for his love for Christmas and what it represents.” Regardless of one's politics, this is seriously wrong for a church to do. There should never be any political figure speaking in God’s house. Why is that? Well to answer that question, we need to look at the reason we have church and why we attend.
Picture courtesy of Dallas Morning News
The church is to be the physical representation of Jesus Christ. This is why the bible refers to us as the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). We all have the Spirit of Christ within us. When we become saved our hearts become the temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 3:16). As one pastor said, “We no longer go to the temple, but bring the temple with us.” As such, we come to church to glorify and honor God. This is why we call it a worship service. We come together to lift up His holy name. Charles Bridges says, “The Church is the mirror, that reflects the whole effulgence of the Divine character. It is the grand scene, in which the perfections of Jehovah are displayed to the universe.”
Now, may I ask, does it glorify God to bring a politician to the pulpit to speak? Does God’s name get lifted up when Mr. Trump gets greeted with a standing ovation on Sunday? Will the people in attendance be looking forward to hear from God or the former president? Or both? And who should they only be eager to hear from? Who will be getting the attention? The accolades? The honor? Is this fulfilling the purpose of the church and its worship service?
Also, the church is God’s kingdom. When we become saved, we are citizens of God’s nation. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” And Peter tells us that as members of His kingdom we are to praise the wonderful things about God. Now, will the service at First Baptist Church of Dallas be lifting up the nation of God or the nation of the United States of America? Will they be singing the praises of their King? Or of their former president?
Now some of you may be thinking, “Doesn’t the church do other things as well? Like evangelism? Discipleship? Or fellowship?” Yes it most certainly does! But anything the church does, besides worshiping God on Sundays, is to be done to glorify Him. Mark Dever said, “The proper ends for a local congregation’s life and actions are the worship of God, the edification of the church, and the evangelization of the world. These three purposes in turn serve the glory of God.” Anything we do as a body of believers is to glorify Him. We are to evangelize (Mark 16:15). We are supposed to disciple (Ephesians 4:11-17). We are supposed to encourage one another in biblical fellowship (Hebrews 10:25). We are also supposed to observe the two sacraments of the Lord’s supper and baptism (Acts 2:42 & Matthew 28:19). Yet, all of this is to be done to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Tim Challies said, “The local church was founded by God for the purposes of God and the glory of God. Our task is not to define it according to our own desires or anyone else’s, but to learn how God defines it, then to follow him in obedience.” How is this accomplished by bringing the former president to speak a service where God is supposed to receive all the attention? As He has told us in His word, “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8)