Last year, on Sunday, October 16th, we outlined a new vision for our church. This Easter Sunday, April 16th, marks exactly six months from that congregational meeting. It’s hard to believe it’s been six months! And yet these past few months have been so encouraging. So many people have helped out–I’ve counted at least thirty different people! They are excited about how good it all looks. After six years of flat or declining attendance our church has started to grow again. This is an exciting time for our church.
Most of our renovations are done now. The building looks amazing. But the thing is, it won’t last. The beautiful new floor will get scratched and worn. The fresh paint will eventually look dated, and the carpet will fray. So why all the renovations? Because they are temporary things that help us share what is eternal–the Gospel. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Paul’s words are striking. He’s saying the central focus of his ministry is Jesus Christ and his death--more specifically, his crucifixion. We hear of Jesus’s death so often that we can almost become immune its power. But Paul says that the crucifixion is central to all of Scripture. Fleming Rutledge’s book, The Crucifixion, helps us understand the power of the cross in a fresh way: “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central focus the suffering and degradation of its God.” She goes on to say, “Men and women did not forsake their former ways of life because they were offered spiritual direction or instructed in righteous living; they became converts because of the explosive news that they heard.”
It’s been a busy few months at our church. The renovations might be nearly done, but our work is just getting started. Why? Because all that work serves something greater, the proclamation of Jesus Christ and him crucified. That is the explosive news that transformed people in the first century. The message that the God who made everything was shamed, suffered, and died in one of the most humiliating ways known to man. And he did this because of his great love for us. Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus! We want all people to know this love.
God is at work, using us to share his love. I’ve had many gospel conversations with visitors since we’ve become Jordan Valley Church. I spoke with a college student who visited our church and was overwhelmed by the welcome she received; now she wants to learn more about our church. I’ve been able to read the Bible with someone who responded, “I’ve never heard this before. This grace sounds too good to be true.” I’ve had a conversation with someone who said he’s not a Christian, but he’s interested in what’s happening here, and he keeps coming back. God is working in our church! We are just getting started, and by God’s grace the best is yet to come.