Have History, Make History
If you’ve been here for any length of time I am fairly optimistic that you can explain why CFC fulfills the criteria for acceptance as a church. To see our local church as a living organism, the body of Christ, is to distinguish it from other organizations. The reality of a church is that it is more than just an institution, the church is to express reality as God defines “realness.” An organism is alive. It lives. Since Jesus means what He says, what He says about us in scripture is that His church is the most alive thing on earth. We belong here.
I mentioned in the last message that to belong here is to see yourself committing to stay put for a length of time that is consistent with having history and making history. Certainly things can come up, life altering changes that force us to move into a new environment. The ideal, however, is for us to enjoy a great span of time and experience with our local church to witness the cumulative effects of ministry over the long haul.
It is interesting that after the disciple Simon, who is nicknamed Peter, professes His claim about the identity of Jesus, Jesus promises to build His church, as long as there is time, through His followers. Taking the church as something more than just a building or manmade structure, Peter goes on to say:
1 Peter 2:4-5, 9
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
9 You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
What an expression that is of who we are as the church! We remain the church of the Lord Jesus because His mandate and mission for it has not yet ended. He continues to build His church and will continue to do so until He comes again. This is also a great reminder to us that our experience of “church,” as much as we long for it to be so, cannot be relegated to merely our history. I’m as nostalgic about my history with God’s people as anybody, but now being far removed from it, I must continue to live, to allow Christ to build His church with me as a living stone in that church.
Many of those who brought me to where I am are no longer alive in this world, but their investment in me remains alive. I can’t grow complacent, as I am prone to do, with memories of the past but must move ahead with a vison for the future that is alive and new and growing. Remember, we belong here! And there is a place for us to move forward from an aging place. We can celebrate the history we’ve made together, but keep making history. That excites me, and I hope it excites you.
Of course we do this by keeping God’s mandate before us. And what is our mandate? Well I hope you can repeat it by now: We glorify God by making disciples of all people. That mandate comes to us straight from the last will and testament of the Lord Jesus Himself. That vision may have been cast for us in the past, but there is much to look forward to even now.
Interestingly, the earliest manuscripts of Mark’s gospel, unlike Matthew and Luke, don’t include a commissioning from Jesus after His resurrection. Instead, Mark casts our mandate within the vision that Jesus has for his disciples at the beginning of His call to them. Mark tells us that Jesus’ first call for disciples went out to fishermen with a different kind of fishing in mind:
6 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Notice that the vision of CFC to make disciples of all people flows first from the vision Christ has for us. We must first follow Him so that He can transform us into disciple makers. We will only be effective in reaching our goal, fulfilling this mandate, by how closely we follow Jesus. It is astounding that the Lord’s vision He cast in “fishing for people” was compelling enough to move professional fishermen away from their careers. So we learn, in the end, that we don’t make our own history with each other. Our success is determined by our belonging to Christ. We will only make history for Jesus if we have history with Jesus.