Do You See What I See?2
It struck me again this past Sunday that the pastor has the best seat in the house. I wish you could see what I see as I look out over the congregation on a Sunday morning.
What do I see?
- I see people “loved by God and called to be saints” (Rom 1:6). A congregation gathered for worship is a unique and glorious thing in the world. There is nothing else like it. It is an assembly of God’s elect; loved by the Father before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4); given to Jesus to be His very own (John 6:39,10:29). These are the Spirit-born children of the Heavenly Father (John 1:12-13)! To look at a Christian congregation is to see a miraculous, inestimably gracious and glorious work of the Living God. It’s amazing.
- I see the bride of Christ (Rev 21:2,9). The “apple of his eye” (Zec 2:8). Purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:298). Inestimably precious to Him. We are of so little account in the eyes of the world – and of such immense account in the portals of heaven. Angels are our servants. The King of Glory is our Bridegroom. The wealth of heaven is our inheritance. God Himself is our portion. A gathered church is the assembly of the wealthiest, most cherished and honored people on earth.
- I see clay in the Master’s hands being made into vessels of beauty and honor. I see people who’ve been in the midst of spiritual warfare all week. Most come weary, some come sad. Some are spiritually apathetic, others secretly despairing over a fall into sin. Some are crippled by past failings, burdened by shame, suffering from low-grade cynicism and nagging unbelief. Others are suffering from open wounds caused by ongoing brokenness in their marriage or family. We come weak and wounded, sick and sore. And Jesus stands ready to save us – full of pity joined with power. As I look over the congregation I see blood-bought sinners who are being progressively sanctified and will one day be glorified, robed in untold beauty and honor as an eternal testimony to the power of our Savior’s grace. It’s really something to see.
- I see great potential for the gospel mission. As we gather, we are not just empty buckets needing to be filled with fresh dispensations of grace. We are that – but not only that. We are also instruments in the Redeemer’s hands being equipped for ‘every good work’ (Eph 3:10). We have been given gifts (Rom 12:3-8) which are to be used for the upbuilding of the body (Eph 4:12) and the progress of gospel mission (Matt 5:16). The congregation of Harvest has massive missional potential – as we raise our children in the faith, as we use our time and money for gospel causes, as we minister the grace and love of Christ to one another and to our lost community. The potential is incredible.
What do I feel when I see what I see?
- I feel immense gratitude. Who are we, that we should be so blessed in Jesus? Why should we be allowed the privilege of being the church of Jesus Christ? And why should we be allowed to belong to a healthy, vibrant, growing congregation when so many churches are struggling? Everything we have is a gift of grace and I’m so thankful to see it.
- I feel the weight of responsibility. To whom much is given, much is required. We are among the most privileged Christians in the world. We have vast resources of solid biblical teaching, unmatched material wealth, great freedom to worship, to raise our children in the Lord, and to speak to others about Christ. There are so many Christians all over the world who lack all these things. Very few enjoy all of them. In the context of the global church, we’ve been given ten talents. What a tragedy if we would squander them because we were too in love with comfort, too formed by our culture, too busy building our own kingdom to the neglect of the kingdom of God.
- I feel the desperate need for prayer. Lord, don’t let us waste these precious gifts and this precious time on cheap and passing things. Send your Spirit to move us increasingly towards your vision of what your church is meant to be. Make us humble concerning ourselves and bold concerning Jesus. Bless us with your love for the church and your heart for the lost. Bless these young families as they raise their children in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Bless these young people as they navigate the snares of the Devil and the call of Christ. Bless these middle-aged, empty-nesters with a vision for using their spiritual insight and resources for the cause of Christ. Bless these elderly with a passion for prayer – like Aaron and Hur holding up the hands of Moses (Ex 17:11ff). Don’t let us waste our talents. Bless us with “much fruit for the glory of God” (John 15:8). Please, O Lord, may we be faithful to our calling to “proclaim the glories of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).
Do you see what I see? I hope you do. I pray that you would count it one of life’s greatest blessings to belong to the body of Christ at Harvest Church. I do.
This Sunday morning, Lord willing, I’ll be preaching on Psalm 78 which talks about God’s call to fathers to pass the faith along to their children. It’s a great text and a critical reminder in our age of increasing fatherlessness. The Institute for Family Studies just published the results of their recent research on the devastating impact of fatherlessness in our country: “Life Without Father”. What kind of impact could we have in our community if we started to address this need in the Name of Christ?