by Danny Davis
Grace to you, and Peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. I bring you greetings and a word of reflection for this moment in our church.
There are many tender feelings in the church today. This time it is over the decision made Monday evening to sell the church property on Glades and begin a new era for our worshipping community in west Boca. Biologists define life with 7 traits. One of those traits is growth and change. How does a church grow? Too frequently, we define that growth by the number of people we bring in as members or the increased number of giving units we have acquired over last year at this time. This is an organizational approach to growth. This is the secular definition of growth. It is about increasing the power base of the church and its apparent presence in the community. But is this really biblical growth?
In his three or so years of ministry Jesus never increased his called disciples beyond the twelve, yet he kept calling for the growth of the Kingdom. It is apparent to me that the growth Jesus sought was the growth outside the organization. Jesus was teaching his disciples and those hangers-on following him, that the real growth was not in the number of people in the organization, but in the presence of the organization through service in the community. In other words, using Wesleyan terms, all of our personal holiness will get us nowhere in the Kingdom of God without social holiness. Our decision to follow Christ and become disciples is a discipline of life called sanctification. But this discipline has little meaning without the social holiness, the good works that become a part of our personality from our relationship with God.
Social holiness is not about how we have a presence in the community to attract new members. Social holiness is about finding ways to meet the needs of the community around us. It is about identifying the hurts, the habits, the hang-ups that cause division in the lives of people and help remove those barriers. It is about giving food to the hungry, cool water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, and comfort to the oppressed and marginalized. It is about taking the candles off the altar and carrying them into a dark world where the people can see the light. Social holiness is serving God’s creation through the teachings of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The world is changing! The church is changing! We are changing! But remember, change is not a sign of death, it is a definition of Life. For many years, indeed, for some, many decades, we have been nurtured by our pastors, our teachers, our mentors, our friends and our significant Christian relationships inside the walls of the church. We have grown in our personal holiness. We have learned to live by “not my will, but your will God.” We have sought to reach beyond our own desires to do the will of the Kingdom in our midst. We work on the regulation of our emotions to highlight the attitudes: love, joy,peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, that serve God and the Kingdom. Each day, as we walk closer to God, we change. We become more Christ-like. We see, not what we want, but what must be done to bring the Kingdom of God into our midst.
This change is always scary. It can be stressful. But, if we are following God, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to support us. If we are living in the Kingdom we have each other to support us. We can walk into the newness of a life with God each day. I commend to you the opportunity to change, not just your life, but the life of your community in the power of God. Change is life.