by Christian Ruch
Ten years ago on this Monday the Lord provided an important perspective changing moment in my life. At that time I and some other leaders from the Church of the Cross core team were in the middle of negotiations for the purchase of a very nice, unused church building at the corner of 2nd Street and 9th Avenue in Hopkins. We all knew that the only way we would be able to actually buy this building was through the Lord’s amazing provision, and yet I still found myself worrying through every step of the process (I’m guessing I am not the only one who has worried a lot about something in spite of knowing it is ultimately in the Lord’s hands). At one point one of our other leaders even told me, very kindly, that perhaps it would be better if I was less involved in the negotiations since I was becoming too emotionally attached to the building.
It was at this time when the needed perspective adjustment arrived in the birth of my son Drew. As I gave thanks to God for Drew’s birth, I was reminded that while the building was something I hoped the Lord would provide for our church, it was just a building—a thing whose worth paled in comparison to the new life I held in my arms.
The celebration of Pentecost Sunday should provide all of us a lesson in keeping the right perspective. Church of the Cross will be marking it’s tenth birthday this Fall on September 14th, yet our ultimate birthday can be traced back to Jerusalem, about 2000 years ago, to the Pentecost celebration recorded in Acts 2. We believe on that first Pentecost the Christian Church was born. It is right for us to celebrate the important milestones of our local church, but we do so remembering that we are a part of something much bigger—the one, holy, apostolic church begun by Jesus Christ. This perspective brings clarity in a number of areas, like:
Mission: We have a unique mission as Church of the Cross, one that is shaped by factors like our location, our local mission field, and the giftings and passions and resources of the people of our church. As we keep the perspective that we are just one part of the greater church, though, this reminds us that out mission must be in total alignment with the mission given to the first disciples by Christ Himself. We minister in a different culture, but we seek the same ultimate goal—to see people come to know Jesus and grow in Him.
Leadership: Over the last ten years Church of the Cross has experienced some changes in leadership, including in the last year coming into a new diocese and receiving a new bishop. Yet Pentecost reminds us that our top leader has not changed and will never change. If we are not submitting to the leadership of Jesus, then we aren’t being the church. This at times is a much easier thing to say than to live out. Are we really looking to Jesus for all our decisions? Are we trusting Him even if the road he seems to be leading us on is the more difficult path? As we face these questions we can be encouraged by what we can see in the Book of Acts—despite the faults and imperfections of those first Christians, Jesus still blessed and empowered his church and led it to dramatically impact the world.
Help: The first Pentecost also reminds us that we need help. It is significant that the birth of the church is the day when Jesus’ promise to send the Helper was fulfilled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit empowered the disciples to boldly proclaim God’s truth, and then convicted those who heard that message so that they responded with faith. Just like the disciples, we can’t fulfill our mission without the work of the Spirit. We hope and pray that just as the first Christians saw the Lord do things beyond their human ability, we too would witness his undeniable power in our church.
I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday as we seek to grow more in our understanding of God’s perspective on His church. Also, in celebration of Pentecost I encourage you this Sunday to either wear international costumes (commemorating the disciples speaking out praises to God in different languages) or the color red (the liturgical color for Pentecost).