Defining The Path Ahead!
This week we will be celebrating our 50th Anniversary here at Faith Christian Church! What an exciting time, and I can’t even relay how honored I am to celebrate this incredible benchmark within the history of our church with you all!
One of the most difficult tasks that unfolds before any church and or pastor is that of vision. Defining who we are, what we are, and where we are going often can seem overwhelming and a little bit unnerving at times. As a result, I have discovered that a more simplistic question is a better place to begin any visionary discussions; “Who are we and who are we not?” By defining this question first, it quite often will direct the path of where we are going all on its own.
This past week I had the opportunity to go listen to one of the more popular preachers within our American culture. Throughout the evening, there was one comment that divided his theology greatly with mine. As I watched a crowd of thousands absorb this comment, my heart sank as a pastor. He defined that when we are in the fire, or the storm, not to fear because God was in control of the thermostat! This is the understanding that God controlled how hot or intense the fire became.
As a pastor my heart plummeted for several important reasons. The first was that this is not biblically sound. Matthew 16:24 states; “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whosever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”. He further detailed in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first”. The biblical understanding is that The Fall happened in Genesis 3 and since that moment in human history, our world thrives in a broken state. Bad things happen to good people and the consequences of sin are real (our sin, their sin, all of our sin).
Secondly, how can one possibly align a loving and just God with a God that turns the thermostat so high that we suffer and burn under its flame? How can we as Christians turn to our fellow brothers and sisters or the lost of this world and tell them that little five year old boys get thrown into the Elkhorn River, AND that God controlled the thermostat for this situation? Or how about personally, why your mother was not cured from cancer, or your brother became an addict, or your best friend committed suicide. I don’t know about you, but if I was suffering or didn’t know God, I would look at someone that said that and tell them point blank that I didn’t want that God!
I believe that for the next 50 years, we here at Faith need to scream from the rooftop who we are and who we are not. We are a church that believes and worships in the One True Living God; who is the ESSENCE of love, grace and compassion! He is a loving and just God, who loves ALL equally and significantly. Secondly, we are NOT a church that believes that God turns up the thermostat within the situations of our lives. Because we live in a broken world, horrible situations will unfold around us. However, we believe that God and Jesus are walking before us, behind us, and beside us at all times. This is the understanding that our pain will never be in vain, and that they will turn each sorrow into something incredible for the glory of God!
Can you imagine the difference this one theological principle could make within the life of a family, a church, a community, a marriage, a child, or a workplace?