Pastors Thoughts 28 January 2018
ARE YOU A PASSENGER OR A CAPTAIN?
I read an article this week about someone who was unhappy with their church and had decided to leave. Their final comment was “I decided it was time to leave a sinking ship. It’s only the captain’s job to stay until the end.”
With so many people coming and going from churches these day (and sadly even leaving altogether) it got me wondering how I would respond to such a statement. It made me wonder what is our responsibility to the church?
The answer that the Spirit affirmed in my heart was that the church is the responsibility for all believers. In 1 Peter 2:9, the Bible gives us all a detailed job description. “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result you can show the goodness of God to others, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
In Bible days, the priests were the ones that shared God’s Word and took responsibility for the church. I guess we could compare them to the captain of a ship. So why does God tell us in this passage that WE are chosen for the same type of work in this generation? Why should WE act like the church is OUR responsibility? I think the answer is simple. It comes down to deciding who you are to the church. Are you a passenger or a captain? Passengers on ships are usually just there to enjoy the ride, complain when things go wrong, compliment when things are good, be guaranteed a safe exit in case of an emergency, and be served by the Captain and their crew. But we are not called to be passengers in the church who can sit back and take it easy. We are called to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and do the work of a captain who serves. This is the highest calling, and one of the secrets to finding joy and fulfilment in church.
You see, in the time of Jesus, “Church” was far from perfect. You had the Pharisees and Sadducees and all kinds of other passengers going to the churches during that time. It was filled with the hypocritical, fake, self-righteous and sinful people – just like today. And yet, in Luke 4:16 it says that when Jesus came to his home town of Nazareth he “went as usual to the synagogue (church) on the Sabbath and stood up to read.” Not only does Jesus actually go to their hypocritical church, he actually played a part in the service!
Jesus absolutely challenged the church to change but he never abandoned the church. The change Jesus encouraged didn’t happen quickly, but it did happen. If you want this church, or the church you’re in, to change then as Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.
If you want the church to be more loving, you have to love the church and the people in it more.
If you want the church to be more accepting, start by including the outcasts and those who get left out at church.
If you want the church to be less judgmental, then start by not being critical and judgmental yourself.
If you want church to be exciting and relevant, get out there and do big things for God.
Get active and involved and then tell me that church isn’t exciting! You see, church is more than going to a building once a week. Church is committed obedience to God. Ask God what amazing and exciting plans He has for you this year. Be the change and stand firm like the captain you are called to be.
God bless, Pastor John.