Monday, September 22, 2008

Stop Playing Church - Greater Things Have Yet To Come

Yesterday morning at church, our Pastor spoke about passing on a legacy. Since it was part of the Faith at Home series of sermons, the general message was that our children and others learn to model the behavior that they see. If they see someone living out their faith and living a life of faith, they are more likely to do the same. If they see someone who works hard to make an honest living, they are likely to do the same. If they see someone who takes shortcuts and never does more than just enough to get by, they are likely to do the same.

I thought it was a very good sermon, and the message kind of fit with some of the things that I have said here. But, the part of the sermon that most reached me was our pastor emphasizing the importance of the role of the church in supporting people to pass on that legacy. As he said it - "I don't have time to play church!"

When the sermon ended the band came back with a choir and we sang "God Of This City" by Chris Tomlin (I think). The song has special meaning to me because we used it in worship multiple times when I was with the high school youth in Atlanta a few months ago. I vividly recall standing in the old warehouse that had been converted into a homeless shelter and singing this song with that group of people. The chorus says:

Greater things have yet to come,
Greater things are still to be done,
In this city
Greater things are still to come
And greater things are still to be done here

That song, and the memory of being in Atlanta, combined with the phrase "I don't have time to play church!" really hit me yesterday, and brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes it seems to me that so much of what we do with religion in our lives is play church. We get together on Sundays, we sing songs, perhaps we are in a Bible study, whatever it is - but we get lost in the events, in the process, in the trappings of church. We go through the motions without necessarily making it more than that.

If we can focus on the idea that "greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done" how much more can we do? We have to think beyond the programs to the people. We have to think beyond the words to the deeds. We have to think beyond us to others. We have to think beyond the walls of our churches or the boundaries of our neighborhoods to the world. We have to think beyond the now to the future.

I agree with my Pastor that we have to stop playing church. There are greater things still to be done here. While it is incredibly important to be secure in our faith, to renew and refresh our strength in our faith and to grow in our own faith, we have to let our faith out, and our churches should train us and empower us to do just that, in whatever way is right for each of us.

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-13

All of us have a part to play in this. We all - definitely including me - need think about how we can stop playing church and be part of those greater things that are yet to come.

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