For many years Michael Jordan built his life around basketball. Through natural talent, a tremendous work ethic, and an amazing focus to win he became maybe the best basketball player of all time, winning numerous scoring titles and NBA championships. He only had one strange year where it all fell apart; the year he decided to rebuild his life around baseball, yes a 6 foot 6 baseball player. It did not go well, becoming a below average hitter and an embarrassing fielder playing in the minor leagues for novelty purposes. It did not take him long to get back where he was designed to be, which was back on a basketball court where he would win 3 more NBA championships and become the stuff of legend.
Exactly what is the church supposed to build its life around!
Jesus had one shot at His disciples after the resurrection, before He ascended into heaven and just before Pentecost and the birth of the Church. He gave two very specific instructions and a promise. He commanded them to go and make disciples of all the world, that He would be with them, and then gave direction for them to go into Jerusalem and wait till the Holy Spirit empowered them to be effective witnesses in the world.
They were to build their lives and churches around the presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ, following through on the mission and challenge He gave them. The Church would be born a few days later and the lives of millions through the centuries would be saved and transformed.
The Church that the “Gates of hell will not prevail against” as Jesus said, is the church built around the Lordship of Christ and the mission of Christ. Anything less will fail.
Churches can build around many things, buildings, worship styles, names, long held traditions and new trending practices, often embracing traditions and innovations at the same time. One church I know advertises “Innovating in traditional ways”. There are of course many ways to market a church hoping it will somehow appeal to the community.
All these ideas sound good and often are. I love many of the traditions of the Church that can connect us to an unchanging Christ, but I also embrace innovation as a way of reaching a changing world with the good news of Jesus Christ.
But if we are not careful we can do the Michael Jordan thing and build our lives and the life of the Church around the wrong thing. He was a pretty pitiful baseball player and unfortunately there are way too many pitiful churches out there, building themselves around the members likes and dislikes, or long dead traditions, or around the idolatry of the church building itself, or specific programs that events that no longer make a difference or even worship services that have form but have lost their center.
God’s church, the church that focuses on the promise of the living presence of Christ in its midst is the Church committed to making disciples, committed to the Lordship of Christ which means its highest priority is the same as Jesus Highest priority, making disciples of Jesus Christ and being His witnesses in the world.
The mission statement of the United Methodist Church: MAKING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD.
Its not rocket science, its obedience.
The questions: How am I building my personal life around the Lordship of Christ and His mission, and how am I helping/leading my church to do the same.