I awoke last night, from a sound sleep, asking myself a question, “How do I love the church?” Is it that I only love it when everything is going smoothly in the way that I desire? Is it that I require people to believe my way is always the best for all? Do I love the church more when people seem to be listening to my views and decisions are in a direction I prefer? What do I think of the church when it works or decides things in a way that I find unacceptable…does it impact my love and forgiveness? If I am a follower of Jesus, what was His model for loving the church? Did He only love those who agreed with His decisions and did things His way? Hmm?
Ephesians 5:25 challenges my behavior; “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” The church was, is, and will always be an imperfect and sinful body of believers…and Jesus knew this as He continued to support it, even to a cross! If any of us are waiting for a perfect group of Christians to gather in the name of Christ before we will sacrifice our time, our money, our personal ambitions, and our service then we have a long wait! Denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, repeatedly questioned, and condemned by religious leadership, Jesus knew what it was to see sinful men.
Yet, he loved the church. How do I love the church? “Unconditional Love” is my goal but it won’t be easy! How will you love the church?
We live in a busy, focused, and production-oriented world. To be a “workaholic” is often viewed as a good thing for it means we aren’t wasting time or neglecting our opportunities to be useful for His Kingdom. Indeed, even Christian leadership finds itself seeking to make certain that strategic planning includes goals and action plans so that programs, committees, and ministries are impactful for God’s service! For some of us who have these habits, we are tempted to review what Jesus accomplished in just 3 years of his life and then become a bit depressed to see what we have done so far with our own lives.
Yet, if we are honest with ourselves and with God, we must admit that Christ’s greatest impact on others was not because He had a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound) plan or strategy but because He knew who He was and allowed His Spiritual identity to guide His interaction with people. Sensitivity to the needs of others around us, just as was true with Jesus, is something we need to incorporate into our being and life’s purpose. You have been selected and called to be a spiritual being not tied to the values of this world! To do anything less is to ignore the true purpose behind why God called us out to become His family’s member.
Dreams are, all too often, very freeing adventures that take us to places that we’ve either never been to previously or locations that we remember from days gone by. Last night, I awoke from a dream where I had been back in Hong Kong and was on my way to Macao but couldn’t find the “Gong-Oh Ma Tao” (Macao Ferry Wharf) that would be where I’d meet friends and we’d catch the ferry together. Hmm, the only problem is that I’ve been to that ferry pier at least 100 times and I can’t imagine my plan to take a taxi from the Kowloon side of the harbor to the Hong Kong side because I am just not that extravagant with spending. Dreams are fascinating. They often have a mixture of the real world with the idealistic world of hopes or aspirations. While I loved my “dream excursion back home to Hong Kong last night,” I am realistic enough to know the difference between the world of dreams and our daily experiences.
In the life of FCBC, we may need to learn to dream a bit more as we push ourselves beyond what we think we can practically accomplish. Dreams stretch our minds to be more creative in our expectations and may even encourage us to be more bold in our planning. As Christians, we have received the greatest gift that the creator of the world could possibly offer a person, eternal life. Yet, our natural response should be that we dream to share this great gift with our friends and relatives. It is my desire to see us, FCBC, become a body of dreamers who will do whatever we can to grow as we reach out with the outstanding news that Jesus has given us life’s purpose. May I encourage you to never “settle for average” with your life or your expectation of us as Christians. We must be dreamers as we can see God do amazing things in leading our friends to become followers of Jesus. We must be activists as we live and share Jesus with those in whom we come in contact. Pray for our boldness and our burden. then, share Jesus with others.