Socrates was wise, it is said, not because he knew the right answers, but because he knew how to ask the right questions. One of the most often asked questions from people new to our church is, “Why does your church exist?” And this is really a very good question. Does Christ Community Church exist to present the gospel to those in the San Gabriel Valley? Are we here to equip the saints? Is our main purpose to feed the hungry, help the needy, bring hope to those living in despair? Well, the answer may surprise you, but it’s “no.” Please don’t misunderstand, however. These are all good reasons. In fact, they are important reasons, but none of them is the reason. We at Christ Community Church looked beyond the obvious and asked ourselves, “Why do we preach? Why do we minister to both healthy and hurting families?” We found the answer succinctly spelled out in “The Westminster Shorter Catechism” when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The response is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” The highest purpose we as individuals can have is to be so totally absorbed in the person of God that we view all of life through eyes filled with His wonder and glory. The Apostle Paul articulated it well when he said to the Church at Corinth, we are to “…glorify God in your (our) body” (1 Cor. 6:20). Later, in 1 Cor. 10:31, he reiterated this same point when he said, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Paul also prayed for those in Ephesus, who were of like precious faith, that they might experience “…glory in the church” (Eph. 3:21). When there is “glory” in the church, people will hunger and thirst for righteousness, their hearts will be aflame with a need to serve God and their community will be affected by their constant desire to share Christ. “Glory in the church” is the very presence of God so actively at work among His people that they live to honor and praise His holy name. It’s when the people of God recognize they were created for His glory (Is. 43:7) and “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name…” (1 Chr. 16:29). The church that glorifies God makes it their passion to know Him, manifests its priority to live Him and maximizes its purpose to share Him. This is why Christ Community Church exists.
MAKING IT OUR PASSION TO KNOW HIM
If God is to be glorified in our lives and in the church, knowing Him must become our life’s pursuit. Because Scripture tells us “You were bought with a price…” (1 Cor. 7:23), “…and you are not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19), this must be a priority. Moses was a man driven by a passion to know the living God. When speaking with the Lord in Exodus 33, he said, “…let me know Thy ways, that I may know Thee” (13). For Moses, knowing God was more than just being aware of His existence, more than having information about who He is, even more than having some kind of religious experience– and so it must be for us. You and I need to have a life-changing relationship with the living God, through the redemptive work of Christ, that impacts every area of our life. To really know God is to have who He is rub off in such a way He influences what we do, where we go and even who we are. That’s why the prophet Jeremiah recorded, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me…” (9:23, 24). The Apostle Paul had that same passion when he cried, “That I may know Him…” (Phil. 3:10). Peter also tells us it’s imperative to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). In Ps. 16:8 and 9, King David said making the Lord his passion gave him great gladness and joy. He didn’t acquire joy by looking for it. He exposed himself to the glory of God, and joy was the natural byproduct. “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word that by it, you may grow…,” says Peter in his first epistle (2:2). As the early church was”…continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” (Acts 2:42a), so must we create an environment where the Word of Christ is explored. Christians who ignore the exposition and application of God’s Word will be “…destroyed for lack of knowledge,” warns Hosea (4:6). From the very birth of the church, God designed it to be a place where His Word is proclaimed and explained (cf. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus).
MANIFESTING OUR PRIORITY TO LIVE HIM
The way we live demonstrates God’s glory to the world around us. When we display unconditional love, accept others, show kindness even when wronged, we are being obedient to God and that gives Him glory. In fact, it was Jesus who said, “I have glorified Thee on earth; I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). Early in His ministry, the Lord Jesus exhorted those in His kingdom to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). The presence of God is to be manifested in His body, the church. When God is disobeyed, His glory departs (1 Sam. 4:21). That does not mean He personally leaves, but it does mean His attributes can no longer be seen. That is why it is imperative we continually acknowledge our sin and turn from it. Only then can we truly give Him glory (Cf. Joshua 7:19). The early church understood what it meant to participate together in fellowship so that God was honored. Whether it was the “breaking of bread” (celebration), “praying” (intercession), the “selling of their property, possessions, and sharing” (participation) or “with gladness and sincerity worshipping together” (adoration), they cultivated every experience to express the will of Christ (cf. Acts 2:42-47). Because of Christ’s command to “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…” (Col. 1:10), it is essential that “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
MAXIMIZING OUR PURPOSE TO SHARE HIM
The Psalmist declared, “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples” (Ps. 96:3). If “The heavens are telling the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1), how much more should we who were created for His glory (Is. 43:7). Because we, the people of God, are to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16) and His ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20), we have been chosen to “… proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The MAIN reason Christ left us on earth after saving our souls is so we would be His witnesses. That is why when the disciples asked Christ if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel now that He had been resurrected, Christ responded, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:7, 8). In other words, don’t be as concerned about ruling in eternity as you should be about revealing Me to humanity. From that time, they sought to capture each encounter to explain the way to Christ. Our struggle to know Him, live Him and share Him will continue until we go home to be with Him. When that happens, we will be glorified (cf. Rom. 8:29-30). We will be changed into the likeness of our glorious Savior (1 John 3:2). God’s purpose for us will be fully realized, and our entire existence will be directed to the praise of His glory forever (Eph. 1:6, 12, Eph. 1:14). Therefore, in order to make it our passion to know Him, we at Christ Community Church seek to create an environment where the Word of Christ is explored. Because we want to manifest our priority to live Him, we seek to cultivate every experience so that the will of Christ is expressed. And because we want to maximize our purpose to share Him, we seek to capture each encounter so the way to Christ is explained.