The Question (#2)
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. – Ephesians 2:19-20
Last week we ended with “So how should you describe your church…?”
My suggestion was “We are an intentional community of believers in the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Because that is the salvation message the world needs to hear.
After all, we’re a church. We could be “warm and welcoming”, do the local and global mission work we do, and never utter the word Jesus. But – that’s not why we’re here. We’re a church because we believe in the Risen Lord, the Son of the One True King. Many churches say they’re “Christ-centered”. But what does that mean – and does your church measure up? Maybe a better question would be – does your congregation measure up? Because that comes with some behaviors we’re expected to showcase.
Hebrews 1:3 tells us Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Man fails to live into the imprint of God, over and over; although we might aspire to be Christ-centered, we still fall far short of the glory of God.
Hebrews goes on to tell us (12:2-3) “…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2-3) that our aspirations have to focus not on the work we’re doing, but must depend on what Jesus has and continues to do in us. We are His work in progress.
Knowing Christ, we hope, with confident expectation, in the future that Jesus Christ has secured. We have the confidence to enter God’s holy presence, grasping firmly “the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). God makes promises. And Jesus invites us to believe those promises. In Christ, all those promises are fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20).
In the end, Christ-centeredness isn’t ultimately about us – it begins with recognizing that we aren’t yet, not really. One of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes came when she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011 – she said “I’m always amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian,’ and I think, ‘Already? You already got it?’ ”
As an aside, don’t you just love that Maya was confident and courageous enough to ask that question at a secular awards ceremony?
No doubt, we share in the benefits of His victory over sin and death, but what we receive must stir us to joyful praise — to declare the truth that Jesus is the Giver of that grace, through both our words and our actions. “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” (Hebrews 13:12-16).
It means we focus on His message of the Kingdom, within us – so that we act not with judgement, not with exclusion, not with legalistic perspective – but in love, which creates in us a never-ending hope and joyful praise that we depend on Christ and aspire to be His children, showing His love, here – where the Kingdom already is.
It means we try – all the time. We acknowledge when we come up short, and we try again. And again. And again. To live into the commandment and co-mission Jesus gave to us: Love God. Love people. Make disciples. All majesty and glory, beyond our comprehension, belongs to God. That hope is enough to sustain us right now. And it’ll satisfy us forever.
We need to live as if we believe that, in every interaction, every thought, every way we can possibly show that love and grace to the world. To everyone God loves – which is everybody.
More to come…