I will be away this week, as I'm traveling back to my hometown to preach the homecoming services at my home church. Honestly, this is one of those moments as a pastor that shakes one out of the routine in a major way. As you hear me say all of the time, I grew up at Second Baptist Church. So my week has been full of both nostalgia and contemplation.
There is so much to be nostalgic about. Second Baptist Church is where I first heard the gospel. It's where I cultivated a relationship with God. It is the place where the gospel took root in me and my life-ministry began to take shape. Second Baptist Church will always be part of who I am in the faith.
Yet there is a lot of contemplation. Sure, I heed the warnings of Christ in Mark 6.4. See, I took Paul literally and became all things to all people for the sake of saving some, which, for me, looked like taking a position as Youth Director at Waldensian Presbyterian Church right after college. And an encounter with Reformed faith there and its Calvinist fruit of the Presbyterian form of church government would affect me just as strongly as my upbringing.
The end of contemplation lands me nowhere else but whence I began. Paul called it a foundation upon which everything else stands. God's presence is a consuming fire that tests everything we've stacked on that foundation. I've always believed, and do even more so now, that the comfort of our dogma, systems, and many of our beliefs make up that kindling heap; and, as Paul warns, we'll probably hate to see it all turned to ashes in God's awesome presence. There is something, however, that withstands: and that is the truth. The truth is the gospel of one once dead as dead can be alive now alive as alive can be. God will gaze at you and me through the smoke of that truing presence; and he will see Christ. We will gaze toward God as well, and we will find ourselves amazed we are still standing. We, too, will see only Christ.
So it's decided. I'm going to simply greet my family of faith on Sunday the only way Christians can truly greet anybody: in the good news of what God has done through Jesus Christ.