Revelation 5 describes a great day. What a great day it will be when all of creation will sing praise to Jesus Christ the King of Kings. On that day, God’s redemptive work will be complete. Even now, His light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. It is astonishing that God would take on the form of a human being to redeem us. On a personal level, God has entered into my mess and yours to bring us new, abundant life. He has blessed us! What God has done for us he delights to do through us.
Of course, the “mess” isn’t just in us. It’s all around us. As I look around the First Coast, I see plenty of “mess.” Some of it is quite obvious, like poverty, drugs, and areas with high crime. Some of it is hidden but well publicized: divorce, family breakdown, teen pregnancy, addiction, and even sex trafficking in our port city. Some of it is hard to see and seldom reported: chronic loneliness, unloved kids, forgotten old folks, and the emptiness of consumerism, materialism, and the workaholic lifestyle.
But it is easy, I think, to forget that this is really about people. People matter to God. What happens to them can break the heart of God. When the love of God fills our hearts, what happens to them breaks ours. God wants to bring light and life to people trapped in darkness and death. But how?
During my season as pastor of a traditional, suburban church, I’d sometimes recognize the mess all around us and feel helpless. While the church would address a few material needs in the community, little was done to bring good news to the hearts of those living in the darkness. We were busy and we were doing good things, but we seemed unable to answer the call to be a part of God’s work changing hearts around us. That helpless feeling led me to cry out to God time and time again.
The Lord who hears our prayers and is faithful did not answer my prayers as I hoped. He did not bring the change I wanted to see in the church. Rather, he brought change to me. First, He gave me a new and deeper love for my city along with a renewed passion for discipleship. I found out I had so much to learn about both – and still do. Then He led me, I believe, to discover missional communities. I learned that God is working through networks of these lightweight, low maintenance micro-churches in cities around the world to help people grow as disciples while addressing the world’s mess with His love, grace, and power. And finally, He arranged for me to be released me from my old church freeing me to direct my energies to start FCMC. But it would have all stopped there if God has not done one thing more. He brought partners. He brought you. FCMC would just be an idea if it were not for you and others like you.
God has been so gracious to bring partners into this adventure. I am so grateful. I thank God for your partnership in advancing the Gospel on the First Coast. In many ways, it feels like we are just getting started – but already, this work is bearing fruit in terms of discipleship. Already, we have joined others in addressing the mess with the help of the ministries of Young Life.
And so again, I am deeply grateful. Without you, I and others would be missing out on a great adventure. Thank you for answering God’s call to be a part of First Coast Missional Communities. Our next worship service is June 8. I hope to see you before then.