We are going to introduce something this week that we hope to become a tradition of sorts for us at Restoration Church. We call it "Footnotes." It's a chance to dig into details or thoughts from the message that we had to edit out.
In today's entry, I wanted to add a thought that I would have loved to have covered during the sermon. Imagine with me for a second we visit another town far away, say in LA, and while we are there we attend a church. There's a big auditorium filled with thousands of people. They praise with passion. They are friendly. They listen to the message intensely. Most are taking notes. We probably leave that service thinking something like: This church is going strong. They are doing it right. Now, imagine we come back to LA a few years later. We are excited to attend that church again. "I bet they've grow even more," we might think to ourselves. When we get to the service though, we glimpse into the auditorium and see what appears to be around a hundred people in the large, now-empty worship center.
What thoughts do you think would come to our minds? Most of us, including me, would probably start to question everything we thought we knew about that ministry. I would probably assume some failure on the pastors' part. I would have no doubt that something went wrong.
Maybe you have already figured this out, but the first church could be described pretty much that way. For most of Jesus' ministry He was preaching to thousands. In the days preceding Pentecost, the church had dwindled down to around a hundred. If Jesus wasn't the leader of this movement, we might all peer into that upper room with a bit more judgment and criticism. But, we would clearly be wrong to do so. Jesus had the church right where He wanted it -so to speak.
Who was left? Out of the thousands that had gathered to hear Him preach very few remained. For the most part, it would appear that the ones who were left were the ones who lived in relationship with Jesus. As we continue to think about the ideas that define our church (Intimacy with God. Intimacy with Others.) we should be confident that we are heading in the right direction. It's the people that we engage in relationship that will be most ready to receive Christ, walk in the Spirit, and one day, turn the worlds upside down just like that handful Jesus left in the upper room. -Lance