Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)
When Christopher Columbus sailed for the new world for the first time, the farther he got from the coast of Europe the more apprehensive his crew became. Columbus was convinced the world was round and that he would eventually arrive in Asia, not knowing that the American continents lay in between. His sailors weren’t so sure. Many were still under the impression that that the world was flat and that they were in danger of falling off the edge.
Several years ago when Charleen and I flew from a conference in Chattanooga during super storm Sandy we felt a little like Columbus’ sailors. As soon as we had lifted off from Atlanta we were in the storm. We were flying completely blind; the clouds so thick they were green and we couldn’t even see the end of the wings. It wasn’t until we skirted the tops of the waves of Boston Harbor did we have any sense that we weren’t lost. Not to mention the fact that it was the most turbulent flight I’ve ever been on! We could only believe that the pilots instruments were working properly and that we would make it to the tarmac alive.
For several decades a picture hung in the back of our sanctuary–an architect’s rendering of an anticipated church building. That building never came to fruition, and we worship in a facility that looks nothing like that drawing. Needless to say 1960’s architecture would be quite dated now. But the question remains, what is Grace Church’s vision, and is it different from what it was fifty years ago? The real vision of Grace Church has always rested, hopefully not on bricks and mortar, but on our identity and calling as a community of Christians who are committed to following Jesus.
The Apostle Peter wrote, “As you come to [Christ], a living stone… you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. (1 Peter 2:4-5) There are few verses in the Bible that summarize the identity of the church better than these. As our caption on the internet puts it, “Committed to the Sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ”. This is how we see ourselves and who we believe ourselves as a congregation to be. But where do we believe God is taking us? Generally speaking, we could say that our calling is to love God with our whole being, love one another within the fellowship, and commit ourselves intentionally to making disciples. But what does this look like in concrete terms?
Vision has to do with the picture that we have in our minds of our destination, but it is not limited by what we can or cannot actually see at this very moment. What is that picture that we have in our mind? Not a 1960’s vintage building, I hope. Should it not be a robust faith in Jesus? Should it not be a corporate worship that is characterized by the joy and anticipation of being in the very presence of God? Should it not be a community of followers of Jesus who are committed to one another’s welfare through thick and thin? Should it not be the Great Commission of Jesus to make disciples by intentionally engaging with those in our community as witnesses for the gospel?
It is our desire (that is the elders and mine) to hold a monthly gathering one Sunday after worship where we can enjoy a simple meal and each other’s fellowship as we talk about the picture of where we believe God is taking us as Grace Church. More than that, this is intended to be a time for praying together as we seek God’s specific vision for us as a church.
…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Pastor Tom Bridgman