July 6, 2007 - I wrote the following on May 31 and have more to add, but I want to get this on, so I'm just going to post it now.
So, just what IS our primary purpose as The Church?
It's always been my belief that my purpose on Earth is to glorify God. Period. I'm to glorify God in whatever I'm doing, whether it's in a paid job, as a mom, a wife, a daughter, a worker, a citizen, a taxpayer, a consumer, a steward, and on and on. But in the last several (or more) years, I've been wondering. Is there a PRIMARY primary purpose? Are we supposed to be out there witnessing and "saving" souls and spreading the news of "salvation" as the pastors of my church believe? Or are we supposed to be out there in the world, serving and loving others and "witnessing" without necessarily using words. According to at least one of the pastors of my church, if you're not out there saving souls for Jesus, aggressively spreading His message to everyone you meet, then you're not living as a Christian. But then I look at one of my greatest heroes, Mother Teresa, and I don't see her out there being the great evangelist in that way. She loved people and served them at their level. She said that when she saw a sick or thirsty person, she would say to herself that that was Jesus and she would help that sick or thirsty Jesus. Everyone knew WHY she was serving. It was because she loved Jesus. She wanted people to know that whatever she did, it came from God. She did it for God.
I want to be a part of a church that loves Jesus and serves Him in the world without going around belting people about the head and shoulders with a Bible and a message of damnation. The older I've become, the more I've come to really hope that the mainstream Protestants have it all wrong and that we've bastardized the original message so much that it's now completely wrong. I think the whole "ask Jesus into your heart and then you're saved" is all wrong. I don't think that we HAVE to "ask Jesus to come into our hearts." I believe that what we are supposed to do is make a day by day effort to live as Jesus would want us to live, to glorify God in all we do, to put His needs first and ours second. Putting His needs first means putting your needs second. Jesus wants you to love others more than yourself. That's (in my little brain) one of his needs and you do that first. I think that's what it means to work out our salvation. It's not a one-time thing. It's an entire life, a day by day effort. You don't just do it once. You do it over and over again.