By: Jeff Wreyford, Senior Pastor
When Jesus left earth, He gave the church a mission: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” This is the central task that we are always reminding ourselves of and coming back to. This is the church’s north star, its plumb line, by which we measure the success or failure of everything that we do: Are we making disciples?
Making disciples is our goal but knowing our goal doesn’t tell us how to get there. So what should we as the church (and individually as members of it) actually be doing in order to move toward the goal of making disciples. We can break this work down into four tasks: celebrating what is good, confronting what is wrong, clarifying what is confused, and creating what is missing.
This is the first in a series of four blog posts that our church’s elders and elder candidates are writing to remind us of this mission that we have been given by our Lord. They are intended to re-orient us to the things that God has called us to do as a church and as members of the body of Christ, spurring us on to celebrate, confront, clarify, and create. Keep your eye out for the rest of these posts throughout January and into February. You can find the other blogs in this series here.
Celebrate What is Good
This blog series is looking at four basic things all healthy, gospel-centered churches should be pursuing. I believe it proper that we start with celebration. Most of us, as believers in Jesus, know that we will celebrate in the end, but what about along the journey? Quite often, with all of the bad that we hear about and experience, we forget that God isn’t waiting until the end to set all things right. He is in the process of redeeming all things back under His glorious reign and rule right now. It makes me think about C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There’s a part after the children make it into the magical kingdom of Narnia only to find the entire kingdom frozen under the spell of the White Witch’s eternal winter. As they journey toward Aslan and his army it becomes clear, winter is ending. The snow is melting, rivers are breaking up, trees are even beginning to sprout with new life, and they can see that the White Witch is losing her grip to Aslan’s might hand. Seeing the good of God’s redeeming acts may not always be easy, but those who are trained to look for them will never run out of good things to celebrate.
So how are we trained to see the good?
First, it means defining “good” as God does. God tells us that “good” will not always mean easy or pleasant. James 1:2 reminds us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” He goes on to list the eternal benefits these trials will ultimately produce in us.
Second, it means focusing our attention on the eternal that is coming over our present circumstances. Hebrews 11-12 reminds us that this can only be done “by faith” as we "fix our eyes on Jesus,” who makes it possible and models it for us.
Practically, Two things I’ve personally found helpful:
Fill your mind and heart with God’s eternal truths and promises. That means spending time with God singing, praying, studying, and memorizing the truth of His Word! If you take an inventory (and I have before) of the amount of worldly “primetime dribble” (print, video, and social media) consumed in comparison to feasting on God’s truths, what would it reveal? I’m not suggesting an all out ban, but prioritizing truth and setting limits to adjust my consumption was so fruitful in increasing my appetite for God and in growing my desire to pursue Him.
Intentionally fill your time with “good works.” There’s never a shortage of people who need a hand with something, an ear, an encouraging word or note, or intercessory prayer. The list could go on based on your giftedness. We know good works alone can’t satisfy God, but they certainly remind us of our purpose and the glory He is bringing down to us!
Lastly, celebrate with others. God doesn’t throw parties that aren’t packed full of the faithful! I know that COVID has created a lot of challenges for pursuing community lately, but I’ve seen so many encouraging examples from our brothers and sisters all over the world who realize the power and importance of sharing space with others and working creatively to pursue presence over isolation! It’s so important that we do all we can to celebrate our Lord together as a body, whether worshiping on Sundays or just connecting with others Monday-Saturday.