Focus


Before He ascended into heaven, the resurrected Jesus told us what the focus of every Christian church ought to be. It is not about what I want or what you want or what the person sitting next to you during worship wants. The focus of every church should be making disciples, that is, students, or apprentices, or followers, for Him. It is our sole reason for being.

Jesus also gave us a picture, in broad strokes, of how disciples are made: through baptizing them and teaching them to observe everything that Jesus has commanded us. But the details of how to do this in the context of each particular church are missing.

And here is where I think that we go off-track: We remember verse 19, but we forget verses 18 and 20, and then we assume that it is up to us to provide the details and resources for disciple-making. Because of those assumptions, we rely on our own wisdom, experience and knowledge, and the result is discord and disunity in the church. Each of us is doing what we think is right in our own eyes. But what makes the situation really tragic is the reality that some people are going to spend eternity apart from God (a.k.a. hell), because we are focused in on our ourselves and own ideas for making disciples instead of being focused on Jesus.

Jesus has not abandoned us. He has promised us that He will always be with us, therefore He is always available to provide us with direction about how we should make disciples at WGLC. Jesus has not left us to fend for ourselves. The whole disciple-making process happens under Jesus’ authority, so He is providing the resources and directing the circumstances that need to be in place for it to happen.

All Jesus calls us to do is listen, trust and die. First, as we listen to Him, He will guide us in the ways that we are to make disciples here in Walnut Grove Lutheran Church. Second, the trust that Jesus calls us into is not just trust in Him for the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life. Jesus is also calling us to trust in Him to guide us as a church, to trust that His ideas are better than ours, and to trust that He will provide what is needed when it is needed. Third, making disciples requires that we die to ourselves. (This should not be something new to us, because being a disciple of Jesus requires the same thing.) This means letting go of what we want and what worked for us in the past (or what worked somewhere else) and leaning in toward what Jesus has for us here and now.

 

I am confident in Jesus and His love, grace and mercy for us. As I listen, trust and die, Jesus has been showing me things that I never thought were possible before. I have heard others speak of such things in their lives, but I had never experienced them for myself. Jesus is a good and a great God, and His future for us is always far, far better than anything that we could ever plan for ourselves.

I am asking you to partner with me in following Jesus into the future. I don’t know what the future will be, but I know that it will be good because Jesus will be leading us.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor James

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About James Paulgaard

Living in the in between, becoming, but not quite there yet, old and new mixed together, hanging on with all my might to the One who is holding onto me.
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