I would like to expand one of the points I made this past Sunday. We looked at 1 Corinthians chapter 1 and how the cross of Jesus forms the church; and one of the points was that the cross compels us. The cross compels us to reflect the holiness of God, and to proclaim the hope of the gospel. When you know that Jesus has died for the sins of men and women, that He has taken the guilt and shame and penalty and price of sin upon Himself for men and women so that they might be forgiven of all their sin and restored, reconciled to God now and forever, then you want to proclaim this hope and you want to be a display of the grace and glory of God in our community and among the nations.
I want us to think about this in relation to some of the things we have been talking about as a local church (growth, vision, location, strategy…). That we allow the cross, the gospel, to compel us forward. To remember that the cross is the power for the church. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” And then in Romans 1:15-16, “So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” In both situations the cross compels Paul to preach the gospel because it is the power for salvation. The cross compels Paul to go!
We must remember that the cross compels us not just to have community in the church for community’s sake. As the church, we don’t want to be one big happy family simply for our sake. That misses the whole point. We want to be the church God has designed us to be. We want our community to be a display of His grace and His glory for all to see. This is the purpose of the church, to display Christ to the world. Yes, for one another’s sake, but then beyond that, for other’s sake, that others might see a true picture of Christ in the church and that others might know and receive and experience the hope of the gospel. This is the very thing that Jesus prays for in John 17:20-21, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
And the best part of allowing the cross to compel us is that it guarantees that we will be doing it for the glory of God. It is good to desire the church to grow, both in community and in souls saved, because of the cross of Jesus. The cross should motivate us to be strategic, to plan, to be deliberate, and to grow. As the Moravian missionaries said, “May the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:16