Almost everything I do from the pulpit I do in the context of community. The Community of Faith. The Church. The Family of God. I believe that God creates us, he brings us together, and he sustains us to live in community. I believe part of being created in the image of God is in our living in community the way he does. We give each other life and support each other and share in relationship just as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do. And I think this way of thinking is critical. I think it’s paramount to our Christian walk.
I believe it takes a village to raise a child. I believe the business of the Church is to create a culture that is counter to the culture we experience in the world. I believe nobody is saved by himself. No one gets to Heaven alone.
I believe that and I teach that because the God of Heaven and Earth, the God of Holy Scripture acts on behalf of people. He intercedes and interferes for people. And when he acts with and for and through individuals, his purpose and his mission is focused on a much larger group. Of people.
Christianity and discipleship is done in community.
But then the Sermon on the Mount reminds us that the standards of our community — even our church community — will not save us. As critically important as they are, the conduct and behavior and beliefs of the Church will not redeem us. What is paramount in that regard is our individual and personal commitment to walk in the ways of God.
Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that our Father sees what we keep secret. What we don’t show to anybody else, he knows. It doesn’t matter what other people think about me, my Father knows if my religion is just a show. He knows if I’m just performing for the people who hear me preach. He knows if I’m just faking it for the people sitting next to me on my pew. He knows.
Jesus tells us that the day is coming when people will present themselves to him in judgment and show him all the great and mighty deeds we’ve done in his name. We preached Jesus. We defeated Satan. We helped people. And we did it in the name of the Christ. I preached. I baptized. I ran the shoe department at Give Away Day. I visited the sick. I cooked for that family. I co-led a Small Group. And I did it all in the name of Jesus.
And the answer Jesus will give to so many that day is, “Who are you? Have we met? You must have been calling on somebody else all those years. I don’t have a clue who you are. And those things you did were actually evil.”
If we seek Jesus and Jesus alone, if we purify our hearts and take care to devote ourselves only to the Father, we will never have that fear. It’s in that we become truly his.
I’m happy to direct you to “Talkin’ The Walk,” a daily blog now being written by our Youth Minister here at Legacy, Jason Brown. I’m more impressed every day with Jason’s love for our Lord and for the young people and families of this congregation. He and I struggle with the same things as far as culture and Christ, youth ministry versus family ministry, and a host of other related dilemmas. He’s passionate about walking in the Jesus Way. And about taking as many people with him as he can. I thank God for Jason and his wife, Cori, and their precious daughter, Rylee. I’m blessed to know him. You’ll be blessed to read him.
One of the first Jr. High retreats I went on as an adult was at RHCC. The number of teenagers was large enough that it warranted a large number of adults. In order for that many adults to volunteer, siblings were allowed to come, so you had a mixture of adult to toddlers and in some cases infants.
At praise time during one of the all together sessions, I was sitting at the back just taking it all in. The Jr. Highers were all gathered in a large group. Surrounding the group were various dads and moms. Older teenagers were playing with the little kids.
I caught the eye of a dad who was looking on for a moment and you could see the pride as he watched his son worship his God. I looked at my two daughters. One worshipping with her peers and the other holding someone else’s child as she too lifted up song.
For a moment I envisioned a scene that could have come from any moment in time. Pure community….
We don’t do enough of that anymore.