Summary: In ordaining two elders, we are making a powerful statement about the organized Christian church.
The Church Moves Forward
November 30, 2002
Today, we’re making a powerful statement about the church, and a very positive statement, at that, in performing these ordinations.Jesus founded the church. The church came from the heart of God, through Jesus, and the activity of the Holy Spirit.
Matt. 16. 18- the church is a Christ thing. The church is something of God that we’re involved in. When you look over the entire history of humanity, the only organization founded by Jesus Christ is the church- organized Christianity!
The great apostle, Paul, instructed in some of this organization of Christianity and the church:
Tit. 1.5- it’s organizing the Christians in an area or a body when you instruct about establishing leaders, who are to bring a positive benefit to the church.
There is no question that the church has had a mottled history. We know this, and most of us can outline examples of this. Yet, even as the church was beginning, do you know that this was understood?
1 Pet. 5.1-3- Peter’s words had, inherent in them, the understanding of what CAN happen. It’s not what was wanted, but wherever you have people involved, things can go wrong.
Acts 20. 28-38- this happened, and it continues to today.
Yet, Jesus chose such a body to carry His Word, the gospel, and it has gone forward despite all that has been mottled over the years.
If you’re visiting us from another church, I can tell you that your church is not perfect and has had mistakes in its past. I can tell you that this church, right here, has hurts in the past that have been created by leaders and other people. I know this church is imperfect right now, because I’m here, and that’s enough imperfection and mottling.
How is it possible, though, for the church to go forward? How is it possible for us to express our confidence in what God will do, going forward, today? It’s possible because of one incredible reality.
Col. 1. 15-22, esp. v. 20- all is reconciled to God through Jesus. ALL is redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus, our Saviour. The power of Jesus’ sacrifice is so very great and, as Christians, we have faith in the greatness of that sacrifice. That sacrifice allows us to go forward in hope and confidence for the future, and to know that the past won’t shackle us. We don’t have to be held back by the past.
There’s a lot to be redeemed and reconciled to God. When I was in Brandon in August, and visiting there with my Dad and sister, en route to a doctor’s appointment in Winnipeg, we got talking about our school trips to Brandon, which included visiting the Indian Residential School. We treated those children like they were museum pieces or in a zoo, and both my sister and I expressed our mutual embarrassment in being involved in that. Well, we’ve apologized to God. All that went on there and then has to be redeemed through Jesus, and will be. What about the treatment of the various indigenous peoples in many nations of the world, when they were conquered by various exploring people? That will be redeemed in Jesus- it will be made right and correct. That’s what ‘redeem’ means- to buy back and to make as good as new. What about the stories of priest and boys, or priest/ministers and girls? All that might be sordid will be redeemed in Jesus. You name it; it gets redeemed by the sacrifice of the King- Jesus.
Jesus is that great! If we believe that, we’ll be involved in what He’s involved with- the church. If we don’t believe, we’ll make up excuses to pull away and not support what He supports- the church. However, it’s likely better for us to be involved where He is, and, in this congregation, we’re making a declaration of our intentions with regard to God, Jesus, and the church in what we’re doing here today.
Those who are ordained, here, both newly and in the past- our elders, deacons, deaconesses- understand these things about the greatness of Jesus’ sacrifice, I believe.
I have something to urge them in- and to urge us all in.
Above all things, you- and we- must know the mind of Jesus. It’s very easy to get all caught up in what we’re doing, and we can forget what’s most important. If we’re to be involved in the work of the church, which Jesus is redeeming, as He redeems ALL things, we need to know Jesus, and that takes time with Him. Without that, we can let all sorts of other ideas and thoughts take unwarranted precedence in our lives. More important than any activity is knowing the One who founded the church, and who is called the express image of the Father. You, and we who support you in ministry, need to remember, always, what is most important. I want to refer to a devotional I received recently and draw some important ideas from it.