Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Church That Doesn't Survive

"The work of the church is not survival."

The words from Brother Andrew, spoken to a Muslim Background Believer in the captivating book Secret Believers, shocked me for a moment. Then I thought, "He's right; the church is supposed to thrive, to overcome, to be victorious."

Theologically sound, but not his point. Yes, the church is to be on the offensive - that's the context of Jesus' promise that the gates of hell would not prevail, against the offensive onslaught of the church. But Brother Andrew went on to make an even deeper point.

"The purpose of the church cannot be to survive, or even to thrive, but to serve."

Like individuals, a church that wishes to save its life must lose it. Shutting the world out from fear, turning inward, never leads to health but only disease in the body of Christ. It's spiritual cancer. Sure, there are risks - Brother Andrew goes on to remind the believer, "Sometimes servants die in the serving." But the fruit that results goes far beyond the grain of wheat that might be lost in the process.

For me, this book has been a challenge. "Practical acts of servant-love" was already one of my top spiritual resolutions for 2008. This book has made me realize the implications of that go far beyond personal obedience. Serving has kingdom significance!

You're out there serving - and for that I applaud you. Encourage any believers you serve to serve others as well - they'll never regret it. If you can safely get Secret Believers, do so ... it will encourage you in many ways.

May God bless you as we learn to serve together!

No comments: