I’m not much of a photographer, however, like a lot of people I do like to look at a good photograph. I couldn’t tell you what makes a photograph good, I can only tell you when I see it. The only thing I like more than looking at a good photograph is taking one. Fortunately for me, there are cameras these days that do most of the work for you. Automatic settings and focus help non-photographers like me pull off a decent photo every once in a while. For me, it’s pretty much the blind squirrel finding an acorn scenario.
I think the feature that helps the most with my “point and click” is not just the autofocus but my camera automatically locates the focal point. The truth is, unless there’s a focal point, autofocus does little to help.
So it is with the church. The church must have the proper focal point. If it doesn’t then all the focus in the world will amount to nothing. What do you think should be the focus of the church?
Your view of the church growth movement may affect how you answer this question. Also, depending on whether you’re in the vocational ministry or a lay-leader in the church or simply a church attender may make a difference too. However, I fear this question is more commonly answered incorrectly than not. Is church about people, the Great Commission, discipleship, worship services or social justice?
Sure, church should include all these things but none of these should be the focal point of the church. If they are, focus can quickly become attentive to the wrong things.
What, then, should be the ultimate focus of the church?
As I look at the New Testament epistles the answer should be easy. But, how many of our churches, church members and attenders come into “worship” services and programs in our churches and completely miss the focal point? Honestly, it shouldn’t be possible but unfortunately I think it happens all the time.
I could give many, many more references from the Epistles but here are a few to make my point:
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according with the Scriptures…”(1 Corinthians 15:3) Emphasis mine
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God…”(2 Corinthians 3:5)
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14)
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…”(Ephesians 2:13-14)
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
“….I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)
“And He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:18)
As I said, I could give many more examples but as Paul wrote to the church, he always focused on the centrality, the focal point of Jesus.
All the difficulties we find in the church: division, dissatisfaction, gossip and faded worship are all symptoms of the real problem, Jesus isn’t the focal point.
But, when Jesus is the focal point the fruits are obvious:
1. Authentic, Spirit and Truth worship in the church.
2. Fulfillment of the great commission including the necessity of discipleship.
3. A heart for others that will result in social justice.
4. Unity within the Body. (Remember, Jesus never causes division within His church. If there’s division, it’s not from Him.)
5. Believers who follow Jesus with obedience [to Jesus] that stems from love for Him and His Word. Obedience to Jesus causes the Christian to abide in Him and therefore produce all kinds of good fruit. (Matthew 7:16)
Lord, help us that Jesus may be our focal point, our only focal point. I understand, by that, the rest of your purpose will come into focus. I pray for Jesus to be our focal point, and I pray it starts with me; today.