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Bedford, Texas, United States
Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Bedford, Texas and former Professor of Old Testament. But mostly I am a husband of an amazing wife, father of gifted children, and servant of an AWESOME God.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Tale of Two Roads - Being Clear About Who We Are

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket,a but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shinea before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matt. 5:14-16)

During our visit to Washington DC this week, we took two trips out of the city. For the first trip, we left Washington to visit some friends in Maryland. Though we attempted to follow the Google directions, few of the streets in Washington go in a straight path and they also change names frequently. As a result we ended up getting onto the thoroughfare to Maryland at a different place than the instructions assumed we would. Normally this wouldn't be that big of an issue, but this particular road is marked only sparsely and when it is marked it is only named by its common name, not its official name - not being from the area, we were never really certain we were on the right road. In fact, it wasn't until we had traveled for sometime that we finally saw the official highway name and could relax that we were in fact on the right path.

This road reminded a lot of the how the Church often functions. We too often lose clarity. Sometimes it happens when we assume people will know what we are about. We use the language of the culture, but we rarely speak about who we are and what we believe. As a result, strangers come in contact with us and the road seems beautiful and well traveled, but there is always an uncertainty as to exactly who we are, what we are about, and where we are going - we have exchanged "relevance" for the Truth that Christ has called us to and that the world needs to see. At other times we put up the signs, but we do so in a language that only the initiated and informed can read. When this happens, we might be able to say that we have been proclaiming who we are, but if those traveling our path can't make sense of our signs - what good are they?

A few days after our first trip we took a second. For this trip we were heading into Virginia. Interestingly, like the first route, the highway we were on changed names/numbers numerous times along the way, but this time, we never once doubted that we were on the right path. The reason for the difference is simply that every 10th of a mile there was a marker telling us exactly which road we were on.

This is how the Church ought to function. Time, culture and circumstance sometimes causes us to change paths methodologically - maybe to go by different names (like our brothers and sisters in countries where the Church is outlawed), or going in different directions (like some of the healthier cultural shifts that have occurred in the American Church over the last few decades). But in the midst of the changes we have to be clear in who we are - we can't assume people know what the Church is and become an group committed to entertainment with clarity or identity. But neither can we speak a language only we understand. Along the shifts and changes that we go through we have to clearly, and often, say who we are so that strangers who cross our paths know where they are and what (or rather Who) we are leading them too.

Jesus used the images of light, a city on a hill, and a lamp in a house to express the nature of His followers. Each of these images speak about clarity, faithfulness, and strength of position. The images are not about glory or fame - something the Church has often forgotten. As individuals and as a corporate body, let us all seek to be clear about who we are.

"And how is clarity to be achieved? Mainly by taking trouble and by writing [or existing] to serve people rather than to impress them." F. L. Lucas

1 comment:

Randy said...

Welcome back....great blog