Over the past few weeks, we’ve done quite a lot at church.
New chairs have arrived, replacing the heavy and tired ones. There’s a new suite of publicity, all in our branded colours. We’ve refreshed the refreshments, offering a range of teas, and soya milk. Fresh paint. Sparkly lights. We’ve added a gleaming Victoria Arduino Black Eagle espresso machine.
Relax. I made that last bit up. I can dream.
But consider this: I can make a case for all of those things. You’ve probably done similar things over the last year. We need to be good stewards of our resources, welcoming, informative and hospitable. I could even make a case for the Black Eagle, though actually I choose to make a case for free, drinkable filter. I’m that heroic.
And yet, we all know it’s so easy to be distracted by a bit of cheap sparkle. All of those decisions can be made for gospel reasons, and we hope they were, but none of them is the gospel.
Yet I’m so shallow, I notice them first.
Changed lives is what our Lord deals in, and just one at a time.
And nothing we can do can rush or force that. People become his, whatever the chair they’re sitting on. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of matching colours.
Let me rephrase what I said earlier. I think most of those changes were for good creation reasons (God made the colours, the flavours, the comfort) and for good gospel ends (we want to communicate gospel truth well, and embody the welcome God has shown us in Christ).
But it’s impossible to see those reasons from the surface. Our local on-trend coffee shop has good publicity, chairs and paintwork. They have the proper kit as well. They like creation too.
The gospel, though. That’s what we long for, isn’t it? We know that’s our only weapon, wisdom and hope.
So, dear pastor friend, remind yourself once again, of the limits of what we need, and of what we can do.
An open bible.
That’s all. And it’s enough.