“…What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?…” Matthew 11:7b
A new church opened in my community this weekend. The promotional efforts were intriguing. On Sunday a close friend asked me to take her to the new church’s first service and I reluctantly, gave in to her request. In going, I knew, she wanted to see a new start up; where the group was small enough to acknowledge her as a guest of honor. Me, I really had no expectation that the church would be different from any other. As the eternal anticipator, I drove across town to the new church start, hoping as always for some revelation from Christ, some light into His calling for me.
As we turned into the parking lot of the local senior center, we were both surprised to see it full of cars, every make and model. If the parking lot was the tell, the people inside the church meeting were middle-class to affluent, middle-aged people and younger couples with children. Sure enough, that is exactly who was there. The church with over 100 people, although new, was very much like any other. The gathering of the predominately WASP group surprised my African-American friend who stated, “This is an established church. I thought there would be a different group.” I thought to myself, “Why?” What reasonably intelligent, contemporary church starter would open a church without some sort of crew in tow? Yes, this was more than an organized crew but these people were all definitely in tow. We soon heard from the gifted pastor/speaker who shared he had a 20-year relationship with the community and was now returning, where he preferred to be, at the leading of Holy Spirit, of course! It was promotional and the pastor, loads of charisma. I left feeling confident that the church would soon be in a more permanent location, the senior center simply serving as a depot for something much greater.
The day after I muse, “…What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?…”
When Jesus spoke about John in Matthew 11, He affirmed John’s service. He affirmed John’s existence. I think my friend and I both long for that kind of affirmation; GOD’s verification of our existence in this life. People long for affirmation in service, in church, in the world. The unfortunate thing for us all however, is the fact that affirmation cannot be found, it is granted. True validation comes only from our Most High GOD. Only He knows every detail about us, therefore is the only authority capable of granting such dispensation. Only GOD Himself can affirm, assert, avow who we are, what we do. Why? It is He Who establishes us as people. Church attendance, the Christian life and ministerial service are not the measure of our worth nor does either confirm our value. People must find their full value in life in Christ alone. All else is false, useless.
Individually we will follow our own likings, the desires of our flesh; Holy Spirit empowers us to know more than our own realities. We can know more than ourselves if first, we allow ourselves to love Him and to love ourselves. Christ Jesus defines our value. We identify with Him and He will immediately confirm His Spirit in our lives, even in the subtlest of ways.
On Sunday, the new pastor/speaker delivered an encouraging message, intending to gain a strong, Spirit-led congregation. He took his message from Acts 1.
I was awestruck by Acts 1:4 in which Jesus commands the people to wait.
“And (He), being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me.”
My heart was encouraged to hear that word, to wait in Jerusalem. Wait. Wait. WAIT!
I know that message was for me. I do not know what impact that message had on my friend. If she would like to return to the new church, it will be without me. Why?
I received the message meant for me at that new church; I was told by GOD Himself to wait, in my Jerusalem, for the gift that He intends for me; The light on His calling for me; Christ’s revelation for me; my affirmation. I guess you could say, I saw what I went out to see.