Summary: Final message on the church's vision statement. Christ's lordship over all things means that there is nothing worthy that we can leave out of our work, but it will succeed if we are focused on Him and not on our own success.
At the very center of the Christian faith there is Christ. That sounds self-evident: it seems obvious. But we keep forgetting it. We keep on trying to live without a center.
Think about a wheel which has no hub; if you try to roll that wheel, its spokes will collapse. And no church will hold its course unless it is tied to a center. A church without that center will become just so much activity, with no real direction, no coordination. Such a church will do a hundred good things, but it will fail to do the one thing it must do. Such a church will have a little something to please everybody, but will not make any sense. Just as the Bible says, or ought to say, "Blessed are those who go around in circles, for they shall be known as big wheels.” Such a church will be a busy church, but a heartless church. For at the very center of the Christian faith there is Christ Himself.
Or, again, imagine a spinning top. It is clay on the outside, but jelly on the inside. If you spin a top which has a soft and sloshy jelly for its core and pliable clay on the outside, the faster it turns, the more the jelly swishes and sloshes, and eventually the top will fly apart. It will disintegrate. And no church will hold together unless at its core there is a solid commitment to Christ. Not to a leader, not to a pastor, not to a tradition, not to a denomination, not to the way we've always done church, not to anything, ultimately, but Christ Himself. At the very center of the Christian faith there is what? Christ Himself. Not really a what, but a who. The person of Christ.
Over the past few weeks I have talked with you about our church and its life. I have lifted up our mission statement; I've filtered it through Paul's Letter to the Romans. Look at it with me again.
We thought about being a free and trusting people, and have said that our aim is to include all persons, to be taught as well as to teach. And it is important to be a free, trusting, inclusive people, if we understand that first we have to trust Christ. Not our ethnic heritage, not our cultural values, not our taste, not our personal preferences, but Christ Himself. For at the very center of the Christian faith there is Christ, Christ Himself.
We talked also about being evangelical in spirit, how it is our responsibility that all people hear the good news. We affirmed that everyone has the right to share in the good news. And that is important; but it is even more important to remember that the good news is not something about happiness or fulfillment or being comfortable. The good news is about Christ the redeemer. Why? At the very center of the Christian faith there is Christ Himself. Not ideas, not feelings, but Christ Himself.
On and on I could go. I could remind you that we affirmed our intention to be a people of inquiring minds, using the Scriptures as our source of hope and harmony. But our basic loyalty is not to a book, nor is it to our own intellects. Our loyalty is to Christ. Why? At the very center of the Christian faith there is Christ Himself, personally, the living Word.
And even last week, thinking about what we need to take into this community, we settled on love. We said that what would make us comprehensive in compassion was love. But I hope you did not miss out on hearing what the source of love is. I hope you did not hear me saying that somehow we can just cook up this thing called love out of our own energies. Not at all. We cannot. Love comes from a relationship with Christ Himself. At the very center of the Christian faith there is Christ Himself.
And so in this the last message on our mission statement, I am asking you to gather up all of the bits and pieces we have strewn on the landscape the last several Sundays. I want us to hold them all together around one great center. That center is Christ. A personal, intimate, day-by-day, living, dynamic, life-shaping relationship with Jesus Christ.
So read the last portion of the mission statement with me, please: WE ARE, IN ALL THESE THINGS, EMPOWERED BY AND CENTERED ON CHRIST ... HAVING A CENTRAL PLACE IN OUR LIFE FOR WORSHIP, PREACHING, MUSIC, AND ALL THE THINGS THAT CREATE DEVOTION TO HIM AND NAME HIM LORD.
Watch with me some key phrases: In all these things ... centered on Christ ... a central place … for all the things that name Him Lord. All things.