I’m reading a book of sermons by G. Campbell Morgan, one of the 20th century’s most sought-after preachers. I was thrilled to read that he believed the three essentials of a sermon (or any good teaching) are: Truth, Clarity, Passion.
I’m part of a wonderful church community in Hamilton New Zealand called Gateway Church. We’ve recently refreshed our statement of mission to say this:
“Together we desire to be a church of resilient disciples of Jesus, committed to bringing God’s Kingdom wherever we are.”
This effort to express our church mission with helpful words, is an exercise in clarity. Keeping the main thing the main thing.
So, why do we desire to be “resilient disciples?” Why not ‘gracious, or ‘obedient,’ or ‘fruitful?’ Surely these are all good godly adjectives to describe our hopes for ourselves. Yes, they are. And yes, we desire them all.
As New Zealand endures yet another week of lockdown, life can feel defined by turmoil and change. For most of us this pandemic season is probably the most uncertain time we’ve ever experienced.
In these months of external chaos, to survive we must be people of truth, and passion for Jesus Christ. People who ‘build our house on a rock’ (Matthew 7:24-27). The rain, the floods, and the winds will beat on us. Our endurance as disciples of Jesus depends, in part, on our ability to withstand these beatings (Jesus used plurals) and return to our best form. “Resilience” comes from an old word meaning ‘to spring’ or ‘to leap.’ Essentially, to bounce back from being bent or stretched.
This pandemic season will pass, but the world will continue to change and batter people. Before Covid-19 appeared, the 21st century was seeing a marked increase in religious persecution. All religious affiliation is increasing noticeably. 88.7% of the world now profess a religion, up from 80.8% in 1970. The world is also more religiously diverse, especially at a national level. In other words, there are more Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists etc. than ever before, and we are more mixed together than ever.
Whether we are facing a global pandemic, local unemployment, or just common change, life is stormy. Resilient followers of Jesus who ‘bounce back’ and ‘bring God’s Kingdom wherever they are,’ are people who know the truth of God’s Word, are clear about who they are and why they’re here, and follow Jesus with passion!