If you have ever thought to yourself, “Why do I exist on this earth?”, or wondered about God’s purposes for your life, you certainly are not alone—even pastors ask this question frequently. Pastors (though I am sure all Christians) also think about a similar question: “Why does the church exist?” The simple answer I often give is that the church is for worship and mission. Most actions of a faith community (should) fall under one of these broad categories. We also know but often forget that the church is neither a building nor an “institution”; it is us! We are the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). So, the question comes full circle: as a member of the body, “Why do I exist?” In short, we exist for worship and mission. In the very famous first words of the Westminster Catechism, we are here to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”.
Glorifying and enjoying God certainly concern the act of worship. Unfortunately, we tend to stop there and forget that it means so much more. Glorifying God is of course about worship, but it’s also about the way you live your life, the purposes you fulfill, and loving your neighbor as yourself – just to give a few examples. Loving your neighbor, getting to know him or her, and caring for their life is extremely glorifying to God!! Remember how Jesus responded to the question of which is the greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37-38? “[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Loving your neighbor as yourself can seem pretty ambiguous and daunting. How do we go about doing it? Where do we do it? What do we do?
One of the great blessings of the church is that it creates strength in numbers. God will, of course, use individuals to fulfill His purposes. However, quite often He works through a group effort. Here at Third, we are committing ourselves in two initial areas of outreach to our “neighbors”. (I will feature the second area of outreach in my December article.) The first is to continue our relationships with the people we met through the Summer Food Program at Crestview Gardens. I will be honest in saying that I’m not certain exactly what God is calling us to do there beyond building relationships. It can be tempting to make plans based on what we think someone else needs. This had been the mistake of world mission for centuries. But what we can do is spend time with people to learn where they are in life. Nearly everything a Christian can do in the world begins by forming and deepening relationships with others.
If you find yourself searching for something more and wanting to discover what God is doing in your life and the lives of others, I strongly encourage you to get involved with this outreach effort. Our first event since the summer will be November 2 (and may already have passed by the time you receive this letter), but mark your calendars for Saturday, December 14 as well. You are also invited to our monthly outreach committee meetings, which are held the third Tuesday of each month. Our hope is to spend time at Crestview Gardens at least once a month as we get to know our brothers and sisters better. Know that God can work in and through all things—this is just one of them!