Corporate Identity and Purpose

Description

It is in the context of relationships, first with God and then with others, that our purpose and identity are defined.

We do not discover our identities in isolation; we are connected through a common story. It is in a context of relationships, first with God and then with others, that our purpose and identity are defined. This communal identity flows from the realization that we are alive not for ourselves but for the Lord and one another. We have become “a people for God’s own possession” so that we may proclaim the excellences of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) on two axes: to the ends of the earth, and to the end of this age.

The more we give ourselves to Jesus, the greater our capacity to seek the interests of others above our own (Philippians 2:4). Our faith, hope, and love become a corporate possession when they are expressed and nurtured in the life of the believing body (1 Corinthians 13:13). Notice how these three cardinal virtues are embedded in a communal context:

Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:22-25).

The sacraments of baptism and communion are expressions of our corporate identity, the former being the seal and the latter being the ongoing reaffirmation of our identity as members of the community of faith. Baptism is a demonstration of identification with the gospel story, and communion is a retelling of this story.

Just as each of us should develop a personal purpose statement, every local church and ministry should prayerfully formulate a corporate purpose statement so that the members can embrace a common vision for their place and time in history. In this way, they can make deeper commitments to a purpose that transcends any one of them. “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Philippians 2:1-2; cf. 1:27).

The New Testament frequently underscores the importance of unity among brothers and sisters in Christ. The church is to be a community of unity within diversity in which the walls of racism, sexism, nationalism, and elitism are to be broken down (Galatians 3:28). Our Lord said that the unity of God’s children would demonstrate to the world that the Savior had come. In His high priestly prayer on behalf of His disciples and those who would believe in Him through their word, Jesus prayed “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21).

Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth

 

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