A Pure Congregation, Not Just a Huge Crowd
What are you trying to accomplish with mission work? Quality or quantity? When we look at the work of the Apostle Paul, we see that his concern was not about how many people gathered together, but the purity of their hearts. He said in 2 Corinthians 11:2: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” He was probably very happy when many people came to hear the gospel, but his main focus was a pure heart, a pure life. He knew that the Bridegroom, to whom the Bride belonged, was not only happy about a large group of believers but more importantly, a pure church (a virgin bride). Jesus was not impressed by the large crowds that followed Him. We find a poignant story in Luke 14:25-27: “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.’” Jesus is the Bridegroom who is betrothed to the born-again church (the bride). Paul knew that Jesus would not be pleased if she was not pure and holy. It was his desire to present Jesus with a pure virgin. He did not want a church that was indifferent in her worship, nor a church that knew and professed all the right doctrine but did not obey it. It was not important to him how the church appeared before men but what the actual state of her heart was.
Pure Conduct Towards the Needy
We find examples in the Word of God that testify of the fruit of pure worship. For example, in James 1:27 we read: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
The context of the letter shows us the sober attitude of the apostle. No one has the right to talk about divine love if they ignore their needy brothers and sisters. At the final judgment, Jesus will say: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus wants us to live out God’s love and mercy every day. Our lives should be so filled with gratitude for our salvation through Jesus that we help others out of love, wherever we have the opportunity and the means to do so.
In particular, it was important to the Apostle Paul that the Corinthians open their hearts and collect money to send to Jerusalem to ease their plight. He said: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). He asked them to show their love to their fellow believers through their gifts. To help others in need is part of the pure conduct of the church.
A Pure Mindset, as Jesus Had
Not only our words and deeds should be pure, but also our inner attitude. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). Genuine purity of heart is seen in the fruit of humility and the willingness to serve. Jesus even said that the greatness of a person is recognized in his willingness to serve (Matthew 20:25-28). It is much easier to put our fellow man on the same level as us and serve him if our hearts are free from pride and stubbornness. Otherwise we do like to put ourselves above others. Just as Jesus treated everyone without respect for persons, so must we. We want to be pure in our attitudes and mindset.
With Jesus, it is the state of the heart that counts, not the size of the crowd. In the end, Jesus will only accept a pure bride. Dear soul, do you belong to this pure assembly that will joyfully enter His glory? If not, that can still change today.