As many of you, I’m sure, are already aware, Sligo has decided to use the first quarter of 2018 to focus on our in-house curriculum on building biblical community, titled, The Promise of Community: How the People of God Live Together. We are using it in our small group Sabbath School study time and we are also reinforcing its message from the pulpit each week. This decision was based on the belief that if we are truly committed as a community of faith to become what God originally intended for his church to be, then as a church, we must be willing to go all in.
In keeping with this decision, this past Sabbath I shared a message titled, The Test of Community. The main takeaway from my message was that the litmus test that God uses to determine whether or not we as a community of faith are truly living up to the ideals of what biblical community is all about, is if we are living our lives together in love. And when I say “living in love,” I’m referring to whether or not we are allowing the Spirit to govern our behavior as we do life together. Not just on Sabbath, but also as we become more intentional when it comes to doing life as a community the other days of the week as well.
Following my message on Sabbath, a brother in Christ approached me and began to share his thoughts on what he had heard. His words went something like this. “Pastor, what you are asking us to do is hard!” I quickly let our brother know that he was absolutely correct in his assessment. But I believe what I added next, helped to put things into perspective. I quickly reminded him that this is not something that I am asking our congregation to do, but rather it is what Christ himself has asked us to do. For it was Jesus who said,
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
And the reference to the cross that Jesus makes here is in regards to whatever we need to do in order that we might remain obedient to the call on our lives to become his disciples. In other words, in the words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we must decide once and for all whether we are going “to be or not to be.” Whether we are going to truly commit to what it means to be a disciple and part of Christ’s church, or whether we are going to decide to do otherwise. As Christ himself said, if we are going to build a building, we need to first count the cost (Luke 14:28).
In his book, Decisive Moments in History, author Stefan Zweig described “ a single moment that determines and decides everything: a single Yes, a single No, a too early or a too late makes that hour irrevocable for a hundred generations and determines the life of the individual, a people and even the destiny of all mankind.” And although Zweig does not specifically mention the church, I firmly believe that this includes us as well.
I believe with all my heart that this is a defining moment in the history of Sligo Church. What we shall be as a community of faith hinges on whether we are going to commit to “be or not to be” the community that God has called us to be. And to answer your question, no I have no idea of what this will mean for us as a church. But of this one thing I am thoroughly convinced. It will begin with us loving one another. Not in a superficial way, but in a way that allows us to do what is in the best interest of our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. And if this is all we can commit to do for now, frankly, in my opinion, this will be more than enough.