Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)
I suspect there were two responses to Abram’s obedience to the Lord. Some thought he was courageous, walking by faith, and bold in going forward. Others thought he was a complete idiot…
The Scriptures do not contain the response of Abram’s friends and family, but human nature hasn’t changed. Those who walk by faith, not by sight are almost always, mocked… and admired; persecuted, yet highly favored; laughed at and respected—all at the same time.
What First Church has done may not be on the same level as Abram, yet it is of the same faith. We are leaving the familiar and the familial to a new land and a new promise and a new vision. We leave with little but believe that God will bless us. We leave the comfortable and predictable to walk into unchartered territory for us. We walk by faith, though our sight tells us not to…
I believe we are exactly where we are supposed to be, headed in the direction the Lord has been speaking over this congregation for over 25 years. As Tom Halliburton and Ronald Whited, two of our former pastors have made clear, this is the right move and a fulfillment of all those words that started coming in the late 1990’s.
Now, congregations around the world have certainly taken greater leaps of faith than we have. Persecution often propels and demands great faith. Still, what we are doing is not common in the U.S. Church, involving a greater risk than many congregations can tolerate. God has indeed refined us for such a time as this!
Faith is risk, not just belief. God has given us exceptional displays of His glory and a very long timespan to believe He is who He says He is. Now, we are taking the risk that propels simple belief into real faith, as we seek HIM! (See Hebrews 11:6)
First Church is a new church! All we have taken for granted and remained comfortable in in the physical realm is gone. The excitement of walking this out together, of REALLY getting to know each other, trust each other, and rely on each other is palatable. Like newly planted churches everywhere, we can expect this coming season to be breathtakingly joyful, powerful, and attractive to those who are truly seeking God, rather than comfort!
First Church has deep roots! Unlike most newly planted churches, we have a treasure in the Lord of great value. Our roots into Him are deep. Our roots in this community are deep. Breaking out from the church-as-an-institution mode; the church-as-a-building mode, requires us to hold tightly to our roots in Him. It is a rare gift to be both brand new and deeply rooted!
Thanks be to God for the incredible journey we are on together!