Like Jesus, we must be God-focussed, yet manifestly incarnational. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, not distanced from us. His first sign was performed not in the temple precinct (which would have been Satan’s preference) but at a wedding party! But notice that Jesus did not simply blend in at the party! Rather, when a crisis arose, he took over, calling men to faith and obedience, so that a miracle could be performed. Mary’s insightful ‘Whatever he says to you, do it’ opened the way for Jesus to rule and demonstrate God’s power and kindness, replacing their calamity with an outrageous overflow of wine.
Relevant to the situation, he met the need, and his disciples saw his glory. Christ was the answer to the wedding’s predicament. We often read such slogans as ‘Christ is the answer’, but he was able to answer the real question being asked at the time, not questions which the church thinks that the lost should be asking!
Recently, we celebrated the first Brighton marathon. It meant that we could not use our church building on Sunday morning as thousands of runners swamped the city, but I was so delighted at our church’s response. Not only did several take part in the race, but as a church we supplied 300 stewards and embraced and endorsed the occasion, demonstrating that our logo In Brighton for Brighton works in practice. This led to effusive expressions of gratitude from the organisers. Our Good Friday Concert for Haiti drew hundreds of neighbours into our church building and kept us on the front-line in reaching locals with missional purpose.
On a mission
A non-missional church misrepresents the true identity of the church. We are here to shed light into the darkness. Without the Holy Spirit’s presence and power there is no light, but to hide our light in self-sufficiency or charismatic introspection is to miss the point badly. We must retain intentional, focussed commitment to evangelism and relevance while at the same time wholeheartedly celebrating the Saviour in worship, eagerly anticipating a full manifestation of his presence.
Recently in Armenia, an injured karate enthusiast heard the church enthusiastically worshipping and came to investigate. Drawn by the praise, he stood enthralled at the back of the congregation and was in time to hear several testify to healings that they had experienced the previous day. As the meeting concluded he came forward and to his great delight was healed!
The church is great! Let’s go and plant more great churches to the glory of God.