When Presidents come and go, the church needs to be the church.
When Parties come and go, the church needs to be the church.
When Nations rise or fall, the church needs to be the church.
When Good Times lull virtue into excess, the church needs to be the church.
When bad times squeeze people into fear, the church needs to be the church.
In Season or Out, when popular or hated, the church needs to be the church.
When cultural values shift, when divisions run high, and when civil war is one fist fight away, the church needs to be the church.
And what does it mean to be the church… It is to love in all times….
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.
“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11.
“That I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:9-11
“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2: 2-5
Love, Joy, Faith, and Hope give the church the advantage it needs against all odds and all powers and all distortions. These spiritual virtues quicken the heart and mind of the church and will always strengthen it for what Peterson called “a long obedience in the same direction” or what I call in the right direction.
The invisible and at times visible church–the true followers of Christ wherever they hang out– will stand like Daniel…regardless of what nation is in power, or what king is in charge.
This love is not passive but active. It lives out the leadership it has experience in God’s leadership. It knows that God is the ultimate Judge of All Things. He will sweep whole nations and leaders into his crucible called the judgment hour and hold each accountable for his command to “vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (read Psalms 82 as that judgment hour).
The church lives the truth and love she has experienced under the care of Christ. His leading has made her a different leader.
She remains the salt and light at all times. Her actions and words testify that their are two moral ditches every person and leader must avoid to succeed … Daniel 4:27 “Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”
Disciplined selflessness manifest in humble, fiscally and morally wise lifestyle combined with graciousness and active attention to those in need will always be the leadership the church recognizes, first in God, second in its self, and finally the vision of leadership it will hold others accountable to.
This is her mission, in season or out, near the throne or in exile! It has always been her calling.