Discipleship

Christlikeness as Vision

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

Paul meant this when he wrote it to the Corinthians church (1 Cor. 11:1). They needed an example because some guys with big ideas, and not a lot of humility, had come into the church and were inciting division and the focus on some strange things. It was an era of confusion of what the church was supposed to be, who had a seat at the table, and where they were all headed.

We think they listened. There was still more correction to come but the church seemed to follow the example, becoming imitators for the glory of Christ and their flourishing. We aren’t all that different, and there is hope.

How often we are faced with the distractions and desires to have a future defined by things other than Christlikeness.

As a church re-planter I have had to answer my share of questions of where we are headed as a church and what exactly my vision is. It isn’t my favorite question to answer and mostly because I think the modern church has been wrongly conditioned to require “vision.” Now don’t hear me wrong. Vision is important in the church. We should have a dream of what our culture as a body will translate into long term. I have even over the years shared some big dreams of being a church that equips leaders and plants a family of churches in San Diego County, but maybe it isn’t believable because the questions keep coming.

The better question I think in the church is ‘who are we becoming?’ That’s what Paul was trying to get the Corinthians to ponder and perhaps we should spend more time imitating Christ than fantasizing about timelines and building campaigns.

I appreciate the example of Eugene Peterson and countless pastors that have ministered in obscurity, inviting people to imitate them as they imitated Christ. In the work of Peterson it is clear it was the soul that mattered and it is either being formed into a cultural expression that is bound to time or in sanctification made cruciform like our Savior.

It isn’t sexy, but it is good. Christlikeness as vision. It is what I desire for my own life and the life of our church. God will work out the numbers and timing. We will work out our salvation. Shall we?

Discipleship

When Convenience Surrenders to Commitment

On Sunday I was talking with another elder and a member of our church about the distance someone is willing to drive to gather with the church. The question came up because there is a church facility for sale in our community and as our church begins to plan for a long term and permanent location some of us were weighing the possibility.

I thought perhaps it was too far north given our current gathering location so in conversation with the elder we asked for input from the younger member just building a family. His answer was quick, “We used to drive twice as far to get here.” He was right. A year ago his wife and he bought a house closer to our church but before that they were thirty minutes further away and still made the trip.

It struck me that I had been thinking of the convenience of the gathering of the church rather than the commitment our members had to it. This young member had already surrendered his convenience to his commitment and what an example and encouragement that is to me.

When it comes to the life of the church that is really what we are asking, and we should answer. If this worth it? Committing to a body of believers who are running together after Jesus and does that beat out our desire for convenience?

As the church global is refined by a pandemic and there really is no point in being a “nominal Christian” I think this reality will be vital for healthy churches and I hope together, as the people of the Way, we will answer that we have surrendered convenience to commitment. It is where we flourish, serve each other, and become the witness we were called to be.

Onward to commitment.

Discipleship

It’s Time to Build the House

This week I am preaching on Haggai in our series on the Minor Prophets. We didn’t give any thought of the calendar when we scheduled this series so it is surely of the Holy Spirit that a word about taking up the work of building the house of the Lord comes on the one-year anniversary of the last service before pandemic shutdowns.

God’s remnant people had come back from exile with the announced mission to rebuild the Temple. They began the work but face significant opposition and distress. So like any of us facing hardship, they gave up. They stopped the work on the Temple thinking it could never be as beautiful as before. But they did keep laboring, just for themselves building fine houses. Haggai is the word of the Lord calling them to engage again in building His house.

They can do it because he promises to be with them and that what he is building is better. It is the thing of greater glory.

Haggai is about the new Temple. It is about Jesus and his people being made into the Temple of greater glory. But it also has a stirring reminder to us to get back to work.

While many of us faced a pause in momentum or drive for the last year, given the unknowns and difficulty of doing more than maintaining, yet it is likely time that we get back to it. Responsibly for sure but knowing that God is with us and he is building something better.

I think this is true for us at Reservoir Church and it is likely true for you wherever you are. What was the thing God was calling you to? How was the glory of Christ meant to be manifest in your life? What risks were you supposed to take, what energy or resource were you supposed to invest? It’s time. Build the house. The Lord is with you and he build better.