Sixth in a series reflecting on the firestorm that occurred in our family of churches and told as a parable of the Great Chicago Fire and lessons from Scripture. To read the entire series of articles, see After the Fire.
What We Know for Sure: God Wants to Build His Church
Firestorms produce a lot of smoke that causes confusion and chokes our normal breathing process. Whenever life throws things at us, to clear our minds, hearts and souls, we need to go back to solid ground. What do I know for sure? God's Word is for sure.
- It's all about Jesus -- the perfect combination of grace and truth.
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." -- John 1:14 (NIV)
- Jesus died to build his church.
"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." -- Matthew 16:18 (NIV)
- Jesus wants his church to be unified.
"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand." -- Mark 3:24 (NIV)
- The church is built on Jesus.
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." -- 1 Corinthians 3:11 (NIV)
"He is the 'stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." -- Acts 4:11-12 (NIV)
"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." -- 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)
- Jesus came to seek, to save and to heal.
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." -- Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)
- Jesus purpose was to glorify God by completing his mission.
"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." -- John 17:4-5 (NIV)
- Jesus gave his church its mission.
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" -- Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
- The gospel is of first importance.
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." -- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV)
- Jesus' church is unshakeable.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" -- Hebrews 12:28, 29 (NIV)
- We plant and water and God gives the increase.
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow." -- 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
With the Word of God clearing away the smoke of confusion from our firestorm, we know these things for sure.
When we try to build our church, or our own legacy, we will always fail as we try to distort Jesus' church into our own image. When we give our lives to build God's church and Jesus' legacy, we seek the Spirit's power and direction to build on the unmovable foundation of Jesus Christ.
Some who are weary of the fire have questioned whether we should pursue what we know for sure:
- God wants to build his church by maturing it and saving more lives.
- God will build his church with the people who are given to his purpose and mission.
The real questions are:
- Is my purpose to glorify God by completing his mission?
- Do I have the faith to continue to complete his mission?
- Do I have the courage to continue to complete his mission?
God promised he will make the seed grow. We just need to plant and water.
What does God want?
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." -- 1 Timothy 2:1-5 (NIV)
Is this what I want? How badly do I want it? How much do I believe?Grace and Truth,
To read the entire series of articles, see After the Fire