Where is Jesus?
I was sitting with a church leadership team when what was wrong became painfully obvious. The leadership team wanted some help addressing their problems; an aging congregation, visitors that never returned, a dwindling amount of young people and an inability to connect with the community. They knew that they needed change and to do something to get on a winning streak. Inevitably the conversation drifted toward the music and whether they should add a more contemporary style to their worship services. I will never forget how the leader of the group slid a hymnbook across the table and made a speech about how “doctrine could be found in that book, and history could be found in that book and one could even preach sermons out of that book.” He then took his stand and said, “if this was good enough for me to grow up with then it’s good enough for everybody!” The only thing that I can respond with was, “I sure wish the book you just slid in front of me was the Bible instead of a hymnbook!”
The death knell of that church was that the leadership was fighting for ritual, they were fighting for what made them comfortable, they were fighting for what they grew up with but they were fighting for the wrong thing! Somewhere Jesus became secondary to the hymnal. Jesus was no longer front and center, doing whatever it took to win souls was no longer the priority and having the amazing presence of the living God among them was no longer coveted.
This isn’t just their problem, this is our problem was well. We tend to fall into a pattern where we trade in a living and breathing relationship for a systematized, regimented, routine and dull one. It happens in marriage and it happens with Jesus. The relationship that once had chemistry and sizzle, excitement and pop is replaced with something inferior. We get comfortable. We go through the motions. Blah!
It is hard work to keep the main thing the main thing. I don’t want Jesus to get buried underneath traditions or routines. Jesus himself said, “ And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32) What draws people is the living, glorious, grace filled, truth filled, resurrected Jesus. He is to be lifted high above everything else we do. He is the attraction. He is what’s worth fighting for. He is the main thing and he doesn’t want to be buried underneath our traditions.