By Evan Johnson
These past seven weeks, we’ve dived into the reasons why we do specific things in our liturgy at New Circle. We’ve approached questions regarding why we do communion a certain way, why we have a public reading of the Bible, and why we have coffee and doughnuts available for people who walk in our rented doors.
One question remains, though: Why does the Church exist period?
God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do “greater things” than Jesus (John 14:12). Those greater things are to bring renewal and life into the world through two mutually inclusive methods: sharing the Gospel through word and sharing the Gospel through deed.
Sharing the Gospel through Word
“Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” The quote attributed to Francis of Assisi can be easily misconstrued. The heart behind the quote is that what we do will ultimately matter more than what we say. However, if we live our lives waiting for people to ask us why we live a certain way, we’re going to be waiting for a very, very long time.
God created the world through speaking (Genesis 1). God made his promise to Abraham through speaking (Genesis 1:3). God gave his law by speaking through Moses (Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Numbers). God spoke through the prophets (1 Sam 3:4, 12:1-7, Isaiah 1). God spoke as Jesus (John 10:30). Jesus will win the Battle of Armageddon in Revelation by speaking (Rev. 19:15).
The point is that God speaks. He clearly has a high value of conveying his message through word of mouth. That’s why he made the mouth (Exodus 4:11). That’s how we communicate thoughts, ideas, philosophies, sympathies, emotions, bearings, everything. By speaking the truth that there is new life in Jesus Christ into someone else’s life, he is comforting their soul with our words.
Sharing the Gospel through Deed
While sharing the Gospel through Word is necessary, God’s mercy and justice cannot be overlooked. The church is to be an extension of God’s heart for our broken world. If we are to be the body of Christ, then as a body we must act as Jesus acted. If there are destitute, the church should go to them because Jesus went to them (Psalm 82:3). If there are widows, the Church should go to them because Jesus went to them (Luke 7:12-13). If there are orphans, the Church should go to them because Jesus went to them (Mark 10:13). If there sickly, the Church should go to them because Jesus went to them (Luke 5:17-26). If there are racists, the Church should go to them because Jesus went to them (Luke 9:51-56). If there are marginalized, the Church should go to them because Jesus went to them (Luke 4:1-45).
Understand that this is not a matter of simply copying down an evangelical formula. If we are the body of Christ, then we should have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). In our likemindedness to Christ, we want to see the world rejuvenated. We want to see the broken and dirty and painful world that we live in find and exist in hope. We want the homeless person on the corner of that street on the way to work to find a home. We want the drug addict that lives next door to find euphoria in something far less damaging that cocaine. We want our coworker to seek reconciliation with her mother or father.
God wants to see tangible change in the community that he created because he created a tangible community. The good news that Jesus is making all things new is not an ethereal idea that permeates the human psyche into the minds of high thinkers and philosophers only to remain there and be thought upon. The good news that Jesus is making all things new is a real idea that shakes apart the human experience like an earthquake and brings forth new life. God’s method of delivering that good news is by word and deed through us, his church.