I would imagine you're confused, but you have to know that:
- My teacher had a pretty strong accent - and -
- My roommate was also in this class.
It took me a while, but I eventually realized that the professor had been teaching us that "Every teacher must have a purpose!"
The good part about this is that people are no longer walking through their religion asleep. They aren't just going through the motions.
The bad part about this is that many people have given up religion entirely as something archaic and irrelevant.
The church has been trying for years to be "relevant." We've relaxed rules and modified our music so that we can better relate to the society around us. But is that what people are really looking for? I'm a musician. I like to think I'm pretty good at it, but I know I can't match popular music, even with the best worship team out there. There is no way that the church can compete with YouTube.
We have been trying to get "butts in the seats." But is this a good purpose? We have the idea that if only people would come and hear the message, they would become Christians. But what if that's not true? What if people can sit in church for years and still miss it completely? What if our methods have done more harm to the gospel, than good?
First Peter 4 is a great chapter that gives us an idea of our purpose as God's people. I can't print it all here, because it is too long, but I encourage you to follow the link and read it for yourselves. Here is my summary:
Christ suffered to overcome sin. As followers of Christ, we are not to live for our own pleasures, but can expect to suffer for following Him. We are to love others, be hospitable to them, and use what we have been given to serve others. We are to speak as God would speak, and serve in His strength, so that God will be glorified in all we do and say.
Telling people about Jesus is not enough. Jesus asked his disciples to follow him. He meant this in a physical way, not just "in the spirit." He left instructions to his first disciples to go and make more disciples! That is, followers, not believers. James gives a good rationale for the idea that we actually have to do something as followers of Jesus. Saying we believe is not enough:
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? (James 2:14-20)
We have cheapened Jesus. We have made him into a good luck charm, or a "Get out of Hell Free" card. Christianity is not free. It is a calling. And in this world, it is a calling to work, and to suffer. Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Matthew 7:21).
The purpose of the church is not to "save" people for the afterlife. That is up to God. Our purpose is to use the power that God has so richly bestowed on us to make this world a better place for the people in it. God made this world, and made people to be a part of it. This is not some sort of testing ground for our "real" destiny. It is what we were made for. If God had wanted more souls for Heaven only, he could have created more angels! He wanted a world that would show his glory. And he gave human beings the job of manifesting that glory on his earth. Instead, we have preached an escapist view that once we get off this cursed planet, our true life will begin. And all you have to do to have eternal bliss is to say you believe in Jesus.
We are living in mortal bodies. This means they will one day die. But humans were not originally made that way. Mortality came because the original people decided to live for themselves, rather than for the glory of God. They lost their purpose. Jesus came to show us that we can overcome that original sin, or missing of the path that God set for us. He came to lead us into our true, God-given purpose. And when we once again turn back to God and fulfill the purpose He has for us, as Jesus did, we will be granted eternal life in Paradise, as God intended for all of us.
Our hope is not in saying a few words, but in the Word of God who became flesh to show us how to live as true sons and daughters of the Living God (John 1).
The church is supposed to be Jesus' body. As a body, we are to do physical work. Let's get going!