One reason why I think it is right to say that a church exists for the good of the city is that if things are done right, then this simply is the case. Why do I say that? Well have a look at Hebrews 6:4-7 with me. It says:
4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6 and who then turn away fromTweet
We tend to look at those verses when we are debating that big theological question “Is it possible to lose your salvation?” The question revolves around whether or not these verses describe a believer who has backslidden or even started to doubt the truth of the Gospel. Well, the writer quickly clears up that issue by insisting:
9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.
The point is that believers don’t fall away because that’s incompatible with salvation. So, what then of the people described in verses 4-6. Well it is clear that they have had an incredible encounter with the Gospel, with God and with the Holy Spirit. They have had a taste of God, his word and his goodness but it hasn’t taken hold. They’ve not been saved.
You see, the church is meant to function as an alternative community or society. People should be able to see what happens when people start living under God’s rule, in the place where God has put them with God present with them. This community is very different to the world around. Here we should find people who act out of love, humility and care toward one another. It should be a community characterised by compassion, justice and integrity because it’s Christ’s community.
When this happens, then we cannot avoid seeing it having an impact on those who come into contact with it. You cannot have contact with Christians, even the slightest brush without it affecting you in some way. You see that in Scripture, people leave healed after the slightest touch of Jesus’ clothes and something seems to be similar when it comes to the apostles. People shouldn’t attend our churches without there being some positive affect. Churches shouldn’t be present in communities without some kind of difference happening.
What about your church? Is something rubbing off from it? Is there an overflow of grace for the good of the city?