I’ve recently begun writing a series of letters to our local church.
These arose from of an extended encounter with the Lord. The first letter was firing from the hip, as it were, and not suitable as a blog post. That first letter will therefore appear here in redacted form, and as the first two letters in the series.
Herewith then the first of those …
Midweek greetings to you and yours.
Please read this letter carefully and prayerfully. It is the first in a series of letters to the congregation. Follow along with me as the theme develops and the revelation unfolds. This is part of the sense of the dawning of a new day in our church, and the letters will help us as we journey together into the future the Lord is beckoning us into.
Jesus put it this way: “You are the light of the world” (Matt 5:14a).
That “you” is plural, and Jesus is describing His church. Us. Of course His church is much, much bigger than just us. It’s transcendent and eternal, including all believers over all time. But that’s not what Jesus was getting at here. He is describing a church that is tangible. One that can be seen and heard, touched and tasted. One that can be pointed to, or visited. Take in the context and that much becomes obvious.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Matt 5:14-15).
Notice the both/and. Each of us is a lamp bringing light into our own personal situation and circumstance, and brightly may we shine there. But each of us also have a part to play in something far bigger than ourselves. It’s the Lord’s heart and mind that together we become much more than we could every be on our own. Together we illuminate the nations!
See the synergy pulsating through the metaphor. The same idea is plastered across the Scriptures using other metaphors. The same way in which a building is much more than a pile of bricks, a body more than a collection of limbs, and an army more than a single soldier, so a city on a hill is much more than a collection of individual lamps on the same mountaintop. As we gather in His Name, Jesus the master-builder gets to work, forging that synergy that is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts.
In recent years our local church has placed a great deal of emphasis on the life in Christ of the individual believer. It’s been so good to embrace the truth that each and every one of us are Christ’s workmanship, carefully crafted, with good works prepared in advance by Him for us to walk in. And ever-so-brightly may we shine as we continue to walk in them. But now there is a new chapter opening up before us. A new chapter that is not either/or, but both/and. It is once again time for us to allow the Spirit to broaden our thinking, and to allow Him to form and fashion us corporately in a fresh way.
My job is to roll up my sleeves and round up the troops. It’s time to build the house. Promise is over her and destiny awaits her. I’ve heard the Lord, and so I’m setting out to do so in faith and with great liberty. Everyone’s invited.
Let me be explicit in what I’m asking for. Not a lot, to be honest. I’m asking for you to show up on Sunday mornings more often than not, and on time at that. It makes a huge difference to the traction and momentum of the meeting when you do so. You might not have any sense of missing anything when you’re not there, but your absence or tardiness costs the rest of us dearly.
I’m asking you to come to the gatherings with intent to engage. Come to lift your voice, to raise your hands, and to hug a neighbour. Bring a friend. Drop something in the offering plate. Come to find someone to encourage. Pray a prayer; break bread; help someone, somewhere, with something. Do whatever your hand finds to do, and obey the Spirit as He prompts. This is not rocket-science. And on your bad days? Come anyway!
On the other hand, we all know that I’m asking for quite a lot. I’m asking you to awaken your heart and to give yourself away in a fresh way. Bums on seats won’t cut it. This is heart-stuff, and I’m asking you to help create the very thing that your heart longs to share in.
See you Sunday!