The Purity of the Church
Sunday, January 13, 2019 - Devotional for Day 7
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Titus 2:14 (ESV)
While on His mission of redemption, Jesus promised His followers that the same Spirit that empowered Him for ministry (Luke 4:14) would be given to them by the Father (Luke 24:48-49) to empower them to bear witness about His life and His kingdom (Acts 2:18).
United with Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, the church is called to be a “holy priesthood,” set apart to mediate the blessings of the Lord in this world as we reflect God’s character of justice and righteousness in word and deed. This is not a new mission, because the church continues the mission of Jesus Christ, empowered by the same Spirit. The good works that the church should be zealous for are merely a continuation of the good works of Christ.
And like the founder and perfecter of our faith, the 21st century church isn’t on mission in a bubble, but in an incredibly broken world. So, how can the body of Christ be pure and reject the temptation to seek power like the world does, reject spiritual adultery (James 4:4) and reflect the glory of the counter cultural Kingdom of God?
Hope in God, reject idolatry (Ezekiel 36:25; 37:23), and seek holiness and purity.
The kryptonite to the holiness and purity of the church has always been idolatry (Ezekiel 22:1-4; 36:25; 37:23; 2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1). Idolatry looks like worshipping and putting our trust in things other than God to deliver us from that which we fear. This leads to hearts that are divided between trusting God and trusting whatever the idol-du-jour is for salvation.
Without holiness and purity, the church is merely a social service organization and not the salty community of the reconciled that seeks to reconcile the world to Christ. In His word, God reveals that His people are holy because of their relationship with the Holy God (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 20:26). And because the church is holy unto God, the church is called to offer pure and undefiled worship (James 1:27; 4:4) in order to reflect God’s glory and to mediate His blessing to the nations (Deuteronomy 7:7; 1 Peter 2:2).
In his book, Community of the King, Howard Snyder says that as Jesus disciples, the Church must commit to a pattern of corporate life and a way of relating to one another which is a rejection of, and therefore a challenge to, the social and political structures of the world. In this way the Church’s very existence becomes both prophetic and evangelistic.
As such, the church shouldn’t regard politics, cultural norms, or speaking truth to power according to the flesh because the purified church is the holy church that is set apart for service to the King of the Kingdom of God, not to political parties or cultural norms. This is isn’t easy in light of the temptation to seek power and influence in the world by aligning ourselves to powerful people and ideologies in the name of being pragmatic (1 Peter 2:11). 1 John 3:3 says that everyone who hopes in God purifies himself as God is pure. During this season of fasting, may God’s church reject idolatry and be purified by placing our present hope in the power and presence of God and our future hope in the promise of our coming King.
Lord, please purify Your church by Your refining, convicting life-giving Spirit so that we can continue Your mission of proclaiming and being a living demonstration of the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Ministry Fellow at Columbia