This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Oh how important it is to spend time in our lives simply living in the present. We need to truly experience the moment and to give thanks for it, without constant worries about what should be or what needs to come next. In this, we truly experience the simple blessings, the real joys of life.
Time to plan
And yet, it is also the 4th quarter of 2017. When I was in business, this was the time to lay out projections and develop plans for the coming year. Now, the church is not a business, but, as good stewards and faithful disciples, we do need to do some level of planning each year.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Even Jesus pointed out the healthy practice of planning when he cited the example: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:25-33, NRSV)
Critical planning – evaluation & priorities
Critical planning starts with critical evaluation. How effectively have our efforts been relative to our purpose and vision? Jesus is reported to have done a critical evaluation of “the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:2-3) Here’s what he told John to write down about the church in Ephesus:
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance... But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place...
Now that was a critical evaluation! Notice that the church was doing “good,” but it was missing the real goal. …It’s not enough with God to just do good…"
Jesus pushed the point even further when he addressed the church in Laodicea. He called them “lukewarm,” “neither hot nor cold” – just comfortable. He threatened, “I am about to spit you out!”
Wow, that sounds pretty tough! And yet, some would say that our churches today are getting smaller and smaller (getting spit out) because they have resorted to doing things that are “good” … but not things that are right and vital. “The church is fading into the sunset,” some say, “because they aren’t focused on the real purpose and vision!” Others proclaim that it’s the church of Ephesus all over: “They’ve lost the true Spirit of Christ!”
But, we at MUMC know the vision! We have the Spirit! And, we believe in Jesus’ message!
That the kingdom of God would be on earth as it is in heaven.