Jump Start # 2654
2 Timothy 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,
Recently my wife and I spent several days out West visiting some incredible National Parks. While there, several ideas came to my mind about articles that I want to share in our Jump Starts. So, this week will be “Articles from the West.”
While in a gift shop in Yellowstone, the friendly sales clerk told us to “enjoy the day in your park.” Your Park. I never thought of a National Park as being “my park.” It belongs to the nation. I guess since I am part of the nation, in a sense it is “my park.” The way she expressed it was wonderful. Our park. This is ours. Those words carried over to how one would care for the place. It’s our park—let’s take care of it. Later in the day, while on a hike, I saw my wife picking up a gum wrapper. Later she put that gum wrapper in a trash can. That’s just the way she is, but I saw a connection. It’s “our park.” Let’s keep it clean.
And, that takes us to our verse today. As Paul describes the resurrected Christ and connects Him to the royal linage of David, he says that it is according to “My Gospel.” My gospel. Paul used those same words in Romans. “My Gospel.” Technically, it wasn’t Paul’s Gospel, but the Lord’s. Paul received revelation from the Lord. Paul was inspired by the Lord. Paul was commissioned by the Lord. Paul was doing the Lord’s work. It was the Lord’s kingdom that Paul was building, defending and supporting. Yet, there is a sense in which it really was “his gospel.” The words came from his mouth. He so believed in this gospel that it was a part of him. He took ownership of it in the sense of carefully using the Gospel in a way that God approved of.
Now, transfer these thoughts to the church. Imagine the spirit and the attitude that comes from an opening announcement, “Enjoy today’s worship in YOUR CHURCH.” Yes, immediately some would jump up and shout, “It’s not YOUR church. The church belongs to God.” Yes. Got that. Understand that. He purchased the church. The church is His body. He is the head of the church. Verse after verse can be used to support that. The church belongs to God. We’d never allow someone to place a sign up that said, “The church of Roger.” I cannot save. I cannot be the sacrifice. I cannot do what the Lord did.
Yet, Paul could say the Gospel was his. “My gospel.” And, in some way, the church is “ours.” The church is saved people and that’s what we are. We are a part of that church. Just as I am a part of the nation and the National Park is “my park,” so, you are I are part of the church. It is our church. It is “my church.” You and I make the church what it is. Yes, it belongs to the Lord. And, no, we cannot do what we want. Just like, I cannot make claim to “my section” of Yellowstone and decide that I’m going to sell it or build a McDonald’s there. It’s mine and I can do what I want—not really. The church is mine, but I cannot do what I want.
Sometimes I feel there is a disconnect between the individual member and the congregation he belongs to. He “goes to church,” but he doesn’t feel that it is a part of him. He doesn’t take ownership of it. Ephesus lost their first love. Sardis was dead. Laodicea was lukewarm. Different problems. Different conditions. All were the Lord’s church. Why were they different? Because the members there made it that way. Laodicea was lukewarm because the members of that church were that way.
Now, just think what could happen if everyone viewed the congregation as “My church.” This is “my church.”
First, there might be a upturn in the spirit and the way we talk about the congregation. It’s like your family. When you love your family and things are going well, you speak well about them. You cannot spend enough time with each other. You enjoy each other. My church—my people– my spiritual family, that has a way of pulling us together and being there for each other.
Second, there might be a closer connection in fellowship and support when I view the congregation as “my church.” My wife picked up a gum wrapper in a park that is over 2 million acres large. Why? It’s one way you take care of things. So, I’ll drop a text to one of the members, just letting them know that I was thinking about them. Or, I’ll go over on a Saturday and help someone clean up their yard. Or, I’ll mail a gift card to one of the college kids. Or, I’ll send a get well card to someone who has had surgery. Or, I’ll ask if I can stick around and help clean and sanitize the building for the next service. Or, I’ll call someone that seems discouraged and disconnected. Now, why would someone do these things. Effort is involved. Time is involved. And, there is one simple reason, “It’s my church.”
Third, there might be more prayers going upward if I viewed the congregation as “my church.” I want my church to be strong. I want my church to please the Lord. I want my church to do well. I want my church to succeed spiritually. I’ll pray for the shepherds. I’ll pray for the preachers. I’ll pray for the deacons. I’ll pray for the old ones and the young ones. I’ll pray for growth. I’ll pray for opportunities. I’ll pray for unity, peace and harmony. Why? It’s my place. It’s my church.
Finally, when I view the church as a part of me, I’ll go out of my way. I’ll get there a bit early and stick around. I’ll try to get to know as many as I can. I’ll go the extra mile. I’ll give someone a second chance. I’ll be patient and more understanding. I’ll demand less. This is my place. This is my people. I want it to do well.
Enjoy the day in your park—what a wonderful way to express a concept that helps take care of the place. And, “enjoy worship in your church” carries a similar thought.
My park…my gospel…my church.