I had a reality check this week, provided by my dog, Monster.
Those who know me well know that I rarely wear a suit. Strange, perhaps, for a preacher, but I come by it honestly. My discomfort in dressy attire spans all my life.
I do have a suit, of course, and this past week I put it on for the funeral of a loved one. When I came out of my room, down the hall, and turned into the living room where my wife and dog were lounging, Monster jumped up and began viciously barking at me! I honestly did not know whether to laugh or run as the reality set in: my own dog did not recognize me. Now, hold that thought...
We are currently in a teaching series in which we are examining our church's new vision statement. It declares that we exist in order to love first, become like Jesus, and advance his mission.
For two weeks, we began by examining the "Love First" phrase through the theological (Is that in scripture?), personal (What does this mean for me?), and ministry (What does this mean for us as a church together?) lenses. We will end this series with two weeks of looking at the last phrase, "advance his mission". I'm excited that we will be giving you real opportunities to figure out what your role might specifically be in doing just that.
But this week and next, we take a look at the second phrase in our statement. We exist to "become like Jesus".
This... THIS... is what makes us recognizable to the world as a people of God. See, there is a reason that the idea of becoming like Jesus is smack dab in the middle of our vision statement. It is in your surrendering to become like Jesus that will accomplish both other phrases. Anyone who becomes like Jesus will most certainly love first, and anyone who becomes like Jesus will most certainly advance his mission.
When we fail to live out and grow in these areas - when we look nothing like Jesus in heart, character, mission, attitude, and priorities - well, we should not be surprised when a watching world doesn't recognize us as being the people of God.
It was a bit disorienting for me to have my dog look at me and not know me. I did not like it. But you know what would we be worse? For the world to look at us as a church and not see anything that they would recognize as Jesus.
May God constantly transform us - each of us and all of us together - into the beautiful image of His son.