1 Peter 1:15-16 Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Notice that Holiness is God’s will. Holiness is definitely one of those “church words,” and certainly not one you hear much anywhere else – but holiness is exactly the bar and the level that the church has to maintain to be an authentic witness.
The will of God is the implantation of holiness in people.
The church is the bride of Christ and the people of God – we are called out – separated – placed aside to be his. Just as a married couple belongs to each other, so we are set aside to be God’s. We are in the world, but we do not belong to the world.
Some people might say that “growth” is the goal of the church; and growth IS great and certainly desired. But, if growth becomes the goal, then the church’s love feels manipulative an inauthentic. If growth is the goal then the church becomes a corporation or a business. There are lots of big churches, lots of big successful churches, and there is nothing wrong with that – but no matter the size, they need to remain holy.
1 Peter 2:9
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Notice here that holiness is linked to purpose. It’s tied into our goal. The church needs a goal, right? A reason? A purpose?And you might find a dozen different reasons for what some believe the goal of the church is, but see here ‘s the thing, this isn’t your church – it’s God’s so we need to seek His will – and we need to look at what he wants. We are holy – so that we can “declare.” Holiness validates our witness – and that only makes sense. Nobody is going to take exercise tips from the 400 lb man.
And so that falls on us.
Peter says it’s our holiness that declares our praise, Jesus says it’s our love that defines us as disciples (John 13:34-35). A church without holiness and love might grow larger, but I don’t want to go to that church. Do you?
And I am not trying to bash large churches here, don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of healthy, vibrant and holy large churches – but what is the biggest complaint you hear about large churches? “It feels fake.” Fake is what happens when churches grow without holiness. Fake is what happens when Churches become inauthentic – when they forget the purpose behind evangelism and they just grow for the sake of growth.
Church is a tool – church growth is a byproduct – but the goal is holiness.
The goal is the great marriage of Jesus and his bride forever in eternity.
Any church grows because they love Jesus and they want others to love him to.