I was kind of blown away this morning when well over 550 people showed up for church in the worst snow storm we’ve seen in about 30 years on a Sunday. I had kind of expected about 8 given the weather.
I was so thrilled when I rolled into the campus parking lot at 6 a.m. and saw it lined with the cars of our e-team members who got up extra early to make it in and set up campus. On both campuses, volunteers and staff worked together to set up environments, and the 8:30 service rolled on as the snow intensified. Ironically, it was our best and smoothest set up yet.
I loved it because I’ve pastored long enough to get my back up about Christians and commitment. Too often, I’ve seen Christians be the first to cancel anything church-like the moment there’s an excuse. Great weather in the summer, snow in the winter, rain in the fall, or just about any other inticement all keep Christians away from participating in services or church events. You often find them at the rink or the beach an hour after missing the service or event they "just couldn’t get to". Any pastor knows that. Do we really serve ourselves in this culture, or do we serve Jesus?
I think I used to be more jazzed about commitment to the "church". These days, the "organization" is secondary to the cause. I am growing more and more passionate about Jesus and what He wants to do with the people we live near. That’s worth dying for. (Actually, He did die for that, didn’t He?) What thrilled me today was not just the commitment to the work of Connexus (and trust me, I love Connexus), but their incredible devotion to the cause of Christ.
Frankly, I’m pretty much done with self-absorbed, pampered Christianity. For the last few decades, we’ve operated churches like we were day spas for Christians — come in, be catered to, hope it spiritually fixes you for a few hours, then back out pretty much unchanged till your next visit. Too many Christians see the church as being for them, not for Jesus and others. We run it as a private club that will take any member — as long as we pre-approve the members and they don’t ask us to change anything. We think salvation will come to us if we save our lives, not if we give them away. Too many Christians are afraid of the radical kind of commitment and reorientation that Jesus preached or talked about.
Think about it…we quote the thing about Jesus carrying our burdens and giving us rest, or that terribly misquoted passage from Jeremiah about God having plans for "us", but we seldom quote Jesus’ crazy stuff about counting the cost, not having a place to lay his head or needing to prioritize Him even above family. The devotion Jesus is calling us to is a radical reorientation to life with God at the centre.
And frankly, I don’t think our society is going to be won over by Christians who are in Christianity to see what they can personally get out of it. Once you’re a follower of Jesus, it stops being about you. It starts being about Jesus and others. What may influence the world is a radical level of devotion to our God, a sacrificial, others-oriented giving, a totally revamped life that is about serving, not being served.
I think I saw a layer of that today. I’m thinking about what might happen if those 550 people were unleashed on a world that desperately longs for Jesus…but won’t know what they need till we love them into relationship with our Saviour. Wait…maybe that’s what’s actually beginning to happen.
You up for real followership? How radically will you realign your life with Jesus in order to make your life no longer about you, but about Jesus and others?
I’d like to chew on that for the week….I certainly haven’t got it figured out. But I can promise you it intrigues me and makes me want to dig deeper and deeper into it all.