From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Ephesians 4:16
Today, in the ongoing “Derek and Rebekah go to church” series, I want to talk about why worship is such a central part of our lives.
This week was “Commitment Sunday” at HMPC, and – along with a couple of hundred other people – we walked to the front of the church during the last hymn to place our pledge card on the communion table.
What we are saying, essentially, is that “We believe church matters, and that this church is important enough for us to make a serious commitment to support it with our presence, our prayer, our participation, our passion, and our priority.”
Church in general – “The Church” – is in the middle of what could be described as an existential crisis. In any given calendar year, research notes, more close than open, and you don’t have to look far to hear people talking wistfully about “the good old days.” You know, when the campus was crowed and everyone showed up for worship and all the women were strong, all the men were good-looking, and all the children were above average – or, was that Lake Wobegon?
But that’s not why we make a commitment! Not to prop up some nostalgia-fueled ideal. Rebekah and I are all in because this is the Gospel we’re talking about! The Church is – for better or for worse – how Jesus has chosen to be present in this world.
The Body of Christ:
Jesus commissioned his disciples to be active and present and purposeful carriers of love, light, grace, hope, mercy, peace, justice, reconciliation and so much more. As Christians (Christ followers) we are called to be the “body” of Christ – the living, breathing, praying, worshipping, flesh and blood representation of all that redemption makes possible.
The local church is where we can make this happen. Together, as we pool our talents and our resources and encourage one another to follow Jesus, we can make the kind of impact on our community and the world that is impossible if we do not work together.
Rebekah and I have been blessed, always, to be part of local congregations where the irrepressible life and energy of the good news translates into passion and excitement and growth, and a constant movement into the promise and possibilities of tomorrow.
There is no existential crisis when we are focused on the constant invitation to “come home” that is the good news of Jesus!
The caveat here is that Jesus is not interested in half measures. Jesus wants us to walk to the front of the church with our pledge, and then to follow through. Our presence, our prayers, our participation, our passion, our priority…. and our prosperity.
This is our opportunity, and it is our purpose: as disciples, as followers of Jesus, as people willing to stop looking over our shoulders nostalgically and – instead – being ready to step forward with purpose into the promise and the possibility that is tomorrow.
If you are still talking about “the good old days” then you are likely to miss the glorious future God purposes for the church – The Body of Christ – today and tomorrow.
In love, and because love makes all things possible – DEREK