by Kenny Rader
It’s common for young generations to neglect the past. They didn’t live it and they often have no interest in it. As a kid, I remember thinking that the past wasn’t important. For example, I had no interest in World War 2 because it took place so very long ago – or so I thought. Actually, World War 2 ended less than a decade before I was born. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized how recently the war took place and the importance of it. I began to understand how the war and even the Great Depression influenced my parents’ generation and should have an impact on me. The past is important.
Just as it’s easy for youth to neglect the past, it’s equally common for older generations to forget the future. A great example is with the elderly and their view of politics. When they were in the prime of their lives, they cared about laws, national and international policies, taxes, and other political issues. But as they age into their golden years, those issues become less and less vital. Perspectives do change as we age, but the future is important.
The wise person is a serious student of the past, present, and future. The past because it holds the keys to the present and the future. The present because we live in it. And the future because it determines not only our tomorrows but the tomorrows of our children, grandchildren, and future generations. Wise is the person who carefully studies the past and present, and also prepares for the future.
The Church has a past, a present, and a future, and of all institutions on the earth, the Church holds the only promise of a bright present and glorious future. By this, we mean the Church as the people. The Church is not a building. The Church is Christians, both in meeting together, but also in our everyday lives as we eat, sleep, work, attend school, play, and live our daily lives. We are the Church. It’s not a building. The Church is Christians who have lived in the past; we live in the present; and we are extremely concerned with the future.
God is our first and highest concern. How are we presently doing at loving Him? How are we doing at serving Him? How are we doing at obeying Him? What is Jesus’ first concern? Actually, not people. Rather it’s God. Jesus said to love God first (Luke 10:27). So let’s keep first things first. Our highest concern in the present and future is loving God.
Why people? Because Jesus said that people are our second highest concern. Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as ourself (Luke 10:27). Now let’s be careful here. He didn’t say that Christians are our highest concern. He didn’t say the Church is our highest concern. He said that people are our highest concern. You know, people in general, but Jesus’ focused a lot of His time on lost people.
For example, the Pharisees became upset with Jesus when He ate with sinners in the house of Matthew, but Jesus told the Pharisees that it’s the sick who need a doctor – thus His focus was on the lost (Mt 9:12). Later in Jesus’ ministry, He tied serving God and serving people together. Matthew 25 tells about Jesus’ concern for hurting people and those in trouble, either because of circumstances or because of their own foolishness. Jesus said if we have not helped them, we have not served Him, and if we have not served Him, we are in eternal trouble (Mt. 25:45-46).
Our focus here at RCC is to focus on God and Jesus; past present, and future. Admittedly, we sometimes fail to keep the Godhead at the center of our objectives because we often lose focus on doing ‘things’ rather than serving ‘Him.’ We think we are serving God, but sometimes we lose that view because we get caught up in the struggles of what we want to accomplish. It’s a common struggle for Christians to keep God first and people second.
King Solomon provides us with a great example of losing focus on God. He built the most beautiful house ever for God, yet Solomon later lost focus because his many wives led him astray from God.
Let’s read one of His psalms that he wrote as a godly man.
Psalm 127 (NIV)
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Solomon got it right. He could supply the workers and the materials for the temple (God’s house), but God is the builder.
Solomon continues in his psalm in stating that children are a blessing. Thus Solomon's focus on future followers of God.
Our board here at RCC is concerned about our past, present and future. We have entered into a contract with the McKnight Group out of Columbus, Ohio to do a Feasibility Study of RCC. They have sent us a several page questionnaire that we will fill out, plus we will send them other information regarding our vision here at RCC, which represents our present and future concerns. While we are in the very early stages of examining the questionnaire, it will eventually supply the McKnight Group with information concerning what we can do with our current building or even a new building. Right now, our focus is on the renovation of our existing building, but we also think it wise to see what a new building would encompass so we don’t spend money unwisely on the present structure. David McKnight, the president of the McKnight Group, has three significant areas of focus that he sees, but our completion of the Feasibility Study will supply him with the guidance for our building needs in what we view as essential.
The study is not cheap. We are investing approximately $6000, but we view this an economically wise because making a mistake in renovating our building would cost much more. McKnight has designed, renovated, and built many churches in at least 39 states and the McKnight Group has decades of experience. He sees possibilities with our current building that we cannot imagine.
The bottom line is that we are doing God’s will. Our focus must remain on God and how we can serve Him. That focus also includes how we can serve the people we are trying to reach, which we believe will make our community and family time here more valuable.
We have a solid past here at RCC. But we are struggling in the present. Yes, attendance appears to be up slightly, but we have lost many young families and youth, which we believe essential for our future. We need to remember our past, and now we need to focus on the present and future of RCC. Let’s all pray that God builds His house. We are merely His tools.
Love you & God Bless,