Is the purpose of the church negative?

Sometimes people outside the church think the ultimate purpose of a youth ministry group is to get you to follow the rules of the bible. It’s sort of a negative view. That would actually be a pretty impossible and unrealistic task, too. The bible says that if you can’t obey the entire thing, that if you break even just one rule, then you’ve failed. If you think faith is about keeping rules, the bible says you misunderstand God’s grace.

It WOULD be a good thing if you try to follow what the bible says. Love each other, treat your enemies kindly, etc. I don’t think anyone who’s read the bible would disagree that it’s teaching is a good thing. If you come here, hopefully you learn a little about the bible and grow.

But still, faith is about more than following rules. God is concerned about something bigger than that.

I once read a story about a bicycle race. The object of the race was to go the shortest distance possible within a specified time. At the start of the race, everyone cued up at the line, and when the gun sounded all the bicycles, as best they could, stayed put. Racers were disqualified if they tipped over or if one of their feet touched the ground. And so they would inch forward just enough to keep the bike balanced. When the time was up and another gun sounded, the person who had gone the farthest was the loser and the person closest to the starting line was the winner.

Imagine getting into that race and not understanding how the race works. When the race starts, you pedal as hard and fast as you possibly can. You’d be excited looking back because the other racers are back at the starting line. You might even think, “Wow I didn’t realize I was this much faster than everyone else.”

At last you hear the gun that ends the race, and you think you are unquestionably the winner. Except you are unquestionably the loser because you misunderstood how the race is run.

In other groups you’re a part of (sports, dance, theater, etc) the rules are to win. But God’s strategy is different. It’s not about us winning the race, it’s about us helping others win the race. It’s about caring for others more so than for ourselves. It is letting others go first and not pushing to the front. It is giving without the expectation of getting in return.

Philippians 2:1-4 (MSG)
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

That’s our purpose here. Wouldn’t that be a cool place? Wouldn’t that be a place where you’d feel accepted for who you are? Wouldn’t that be a place that others would want to be a part of?

I think the church wouldn’t be seen so negatively in our culture if we started caring for each other rather than worrying about a bunch of rules.

photo credit: via photopin

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