These are my new years’s resolutions. I will work towards my dreams and prayers for the Church at large (henceforth called the “Church”)—which naturally includes myself.
- The Church would be serious about discipleship.
Yes, it is awesome and amazing that Christ died for me, and yes, that idea is a touchstone to return to over and over again, but what happens next? What do I do after salvation? And how is this so different from non-Christians being good people? Please help me work it out it my life. Please give me models of people working that out in their lives.
- The Church would have more rigor in its content.
Please give more meat in the sermons, Bible studies, teachings and discussions. Please deal with real life issues in a deeper way. Challenge my mind, and make me feel like I am growing deeper in understanding. Give me something real and relatable to chew on. If you feel your congregation is smarter than you, then please don’t be intimidated by that—we put ourselves under your pastoral care, and you have been called. Acknowledge where you are at, how you feel, and most will appreciate your best, honest efforts. Perhaps we can even help you?
- The Church would be more curious, courageous and real.
Please deal with the elephants in the room. Hard things happen, even inside the church, and it is no favor to us when we do not get to see these things dealt with and resolved in a Godly way. So don’t hide it. We do not need every detail, but please fill us in particularly on things we are all whispering about. Please model to us how you went to God, how you are leading us to God. Otherwise, we are too surprised when scandal hits, too shocked that those so close to God deal with these things too. We become disillusioned. We are not ready when we hear and it is too much for us.
- The Church would see the log in our eye before we address the speck in others.
This does not mean that we refrain from addressing the wrongs we see outside of the Church or in each other. We address these sins because we ultimately love our neighbor, and we do not want our neighbor to be hurt, to suffer more unwittingly. This means, however, that when we address sins and wrongs in others, we start by examining ourselves first and acknowledging our own sins and wrongs. We can love our neighbor more effectively as a neighbor than from on high.
- The Church would not be afraid to be different, to be someone, something new.
We would not try to be original, but something original would come out as we live out the gospel. That something original would pour forth from our new selves that Christ is molding in us. We would be original, but recognizable in our Christ-centered themes. Something original and new in our art, in our ideas, in how we apply the Gospel, in how we love one another and God. If the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world, then may we be his instrument for this, for something different, for something new.
- The Church would go to God when it doesn’t know what to do and acknowledge Christ’s reign.
Yes, God speaks through other people, through books, consultants and psychologists, but do we lean on God first and foremost? Is going to other people easier than learning to relate to God in this situation, easier than trusting that God is active in our lives and going to him first? Is it easier than thinking for ourselves? My prayer (for myself especially) is that we would lean less on what others are doing and on what we understand to be acceptable, and lean more on God. May we who call ourselves Christians look to Jesus and attach ourselves to him all the more to him, submitting to his truth, his way and his life. May we mirror more of his grace and truth at the appropriate times in appropriate proportions. May we indeed believe that he is King.
- The Church would give God glory.
All the time, may we desire for him to shine in our hearts, in our lives, in our communities and circles. Things would less be about us, more be about God. May we put ourselves second, and God first in loving difficult people, in serving ungrateful people, in staying in relationship with those who just don’t “get” us. May we seek out his reconciliation and love, allowing ourselves to be transformed and to transcend, to rise above our circumstances and situations and seek his way, because we love him, because we know he reigns. And then may we know that to God truly be all glory.
Happy New Year, dear Church!!!! Happy New Year!!!
NOTE: With the holidays, I thought it was more fitting to write more seasonal items. Starting with my next post on January 1, I will commence writing off topics off my very first post as promised.