Repost from Facebook Notes July 14, 2015
It’s time to begin, and as so often happens when it’s been a while since I wrote for God, my mind seems overfilled, distracted, wondering what it is I want to say that you might want to hear. The point, as always in that state, is to begin. Since this is a new series, focused on the things God reveals, I suppose it should not surprise me that when the decision to write finally came, His message was to begin at the beginning. There is a message that has bounced around in my brain for more than a year. Each time I have considered writing it, it skittered away into the chaos swirling around in the world. It surfaced again last week, and I almost wrote it then, except God’s confirmation of where to start came in the sermon title for Sunday morning. So I convinced myself to wait to see if there was more to it in the sermon.
The sermon was wonderful, and I must say I am delighted so far with the way God is moving in, around and through our newest pastor at Ball Ground UMC. But, apparently this message was simply complete with the title itself. So here goes, it’s not about us. As I have watched the world roll by this past year, perhaps longer, my sadness and frustration has often grown. I have watched the news of people rioting, killing, suing one another, and demanding, always demanding. I have watched my fellow countrymen stand before the world screaming about their right to a job, to a home, to free speech, to not be offended, to health care, to the American Dream. I would shake my head and sigh, but it wasn’t until the mantra was taken up by my fellow countrymen who call themselves Christians that my heart flooded with sorrow.
This sorrow peaked in May and June as we here in North Georgia prepared for and held our Annual Conference. The Conference itself was rather beautiful, and this year more than last I could feel God’s presence in the people and the work. It took tragedy in the midst I think to keep us open and focused on whose we were at the time, but God was there, and there was grace. But, the elephant in the room did not leave. The issue of homosexuality as sin was once again front and center. This note is not about that particular issue, because it is just that, an issue. Sin is sin, none more horrid than another, and all lead us away from God and toward death. Divorce, pride, haughtiness, sowing division, gluttony, greed. All these pervade different aspects of the church, they are just as pernicious in warping doctrine. They are just as likely, perhaps more so, to lead our children and our brothers and sisters into hell and damnation as the issues that divide us.
And that’s why my heart weeps. Because no matter what particular issues divide us in a given day or decade, the answer is always the same. It struck me again first in Bible Study this week as we discussed Revelation 12:10-11 among other things. It reads “10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers[a] has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Our study leader mentioned that this suggests that even the angels triumphed not by the power of their swords or their own might, but by the power and blood of Christ. It struck me again as I read the title for a sermon about God’s grace based in the first chapter of Ephesians. It’s not about us.
It’s about Christ, the Lamb who was slain. It is about the Holy Father, who invites us to call Him Abba. It is about Holy Spirit who chooses to come and dwell within each person who choose to be washed in the blood of the Lamb and let their lives become the word of testimony about Him. I have grown weary that so many of us who call Him Lord have forgotten. Worse, I am fearful that in this day of self and seeking and excusing bad behavior on the grounds that it’s our right, perhaps most of us who call Him Lord never actually knew. It’s not about us.
The church isn’t about us. It’s about God, and His plan for the world. It isn’t about making us happy, or providing our children guidance and entertainment. It isn’t about tickling people’s ears so they’ll want to come back and our numbers will look better. It isn’t about programs that will appeal to seekers, or songs we like to sing. It isn’t about Sunday morning. It’s about God and His call through each of us to accept Christ as Lord and Savior and make ourselves ready to be the holy dwelling place for the power of the One True God in the form of Holy Spirit. It isn’t about our plans, our wants, our dreams. It is about God’s plans for creation, His greatest desires, and His willingness and grace to allow us a small part in creating His final masterpiece.
It is about His glory. It is about sharing His glory with a world lost in darkness. It is about willingly giving up every right we have, every want, every desire, every dream, even our very lives, to serve the call He gives us. To be a living, breathing testimony to the Gospel of Christ, the whole Gospel. So that the world can come to know that every division, every broken place, every pain, every trial can be made whole and perfect by the Creator of all who loved us enough to reconcile us to Him.
God is tremendously patient. His love is absolute. But, Scripture tells us that He will not wait forever, that sooner or later He will grow as weary with the sorrow of our self-serving folly as I sometimes do. For those in the world who do not know Christ, I pray one day you do, and I forebear to condemn you for the folly of chasing illusions or outrage. For those who claim Christ as Lord, every time you feel the urge to rant your rights before the world, pause and pray and seek God’s righteous path. Every time you feel the urge to vilify and scream against another’s sins and slights, stop and check the log first, and seek the way to glorify God in the encounter. And the next time you set foot in the walls of your church, and find yourself seeking something that you aren’t finding or decrying the lack of what you think you want there, stop a moment to ask God to help you hear the Holy Spirit in you and then do what you’re told. It’s time for Christians to quit cowering and bickering before the world, being tossed this way and that by issues and mournful cries of “Christianity is dying.” We serve the risen Lord who conquered death and hell. We serve the Morning star who will come on the clouds with lightning when the Day of the Lord arrives. We serve the author of Creation. It does not befit us to behave like scared and squabbling children.
Pray often and glorify the Lord.