What is the Logan Ministerial Association’s reputation? What image pops into people’s minds when they think of the churches in Logan County? What does the community say about Christians?
As you think about these questions, I want you to think about it in two ways –
I want you to think about as it refers to your church where you worship God.
And I want you to think about it as it refers to you as an individual member of the body of Christ – to you as a person who believes in God.
First, what report goes out about Christians?
Second, what report goes out about you?
I know of a church in a city that is known for its huge pipe organ and for the quality of the mink coats and Rolls Royce’s and Bentleys that could be seen there on a Sunday morning. But not known for its spirituality.
In Logan, The First Christian Church is known for the ecumenical Lenten lunches.
The First Presbyterian is known for their food pantry, where they serve the community’s needy with their Hungry Lambs Project, which distributes food boxes.
Nighbert Memorial United Methodist Church is known for their Wednesday free dinner program at 5:20 pm.
I have heard about a church that is known to be composed of people who are generally good neighbors and help anyone in need in the community.
There is a church in one place that I know that is praised far and wide for its youth work –
Another for its music program –
Still another I am familiar with is known for how the people in it squabble with each other and with their minister.
Another is known for the height of its steeple and the fine masonry work.
What is your church’s reputation?
What is our reputation?
What are we known for?
Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica –
“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers. In spite of persecution, you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit…so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia…in every place your faith in God has become known.”
What a great reputation!
And with that great reputation there came a great influence – an ability to move the hearts and minds of many to give praise to God and to love a more Godly life.
Are we a people who make a difference? A people known for our faith in the living God?
I ask this because this is our calling.
In First Peter, chapter two it says:
“We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
It is a pleasure to be known for our hospitality and warmth. It is not even so bad to be known for our beautiful sanctuary or our cozy community.
But it is far better to be known for our faith and for what we do in faith to show our love for God and for one another.
You are the salt of the earth, said Jesus
You are the light of the world,
You are a city built on a hill – which cannot be hid.
Are we known for being salty?
Do our friends look at us and see in us a greater light than they see in the world?
Are our lives like strong buildings – or are they just slapped together out of any old thing that comes along?
I read of a thirty story building in a large city that was built some years back. It was written up because the thirty stories were built and completed in a matter of a few weeks. It was quite a feat. But when the building project manager was asked about this building marvel he told of the many weeks it took to build the foundation. He said the taller the building, the deeper the foundation.
So it is with the church. The foundation is Jesus Christ.
When we build our lives on Christ, when we anchor ourselves by faith to the power of his word and the inspiration of his spirit then we can’t help but become strong
Even in the face of persecution, we can’t help but shine
Even when it is dark, we can’t help but be the salt that preserves the world
A people who proclaim the mighty acts of God and lead others to life in him.
What is our reputation?
Do we make a positive difference to the people outside church walls? Do we have a Godly reputation or do we have a profane one? An ordinary one? One no different in the end than anyone else’s?
I’m not trying to take shots at any of us who are reading this article when I ask these questions.
But I do want us all to remember what our faith is all about – and the last thing our faith is about is being ordinary. Quite frankly if ordinary is what it is what we desire we can be ordinary far better by going shopping every Sunday or by staying home to watch the ball game.
A Godly reputation is not an ordinary thing – it is a wonderful thing – because it means that we are leading lives of joy and of love, lives of compassion and of service, lives noted for their radiance and their Peace, lives that are good for us and good for others.
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians suggests to us what such lives are based on – it suggests to us that we can have a godly reputation like those in Thessalonica if like them we practice a godly imitation.
“we know brothers and sisters, beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…”
Imitation my friends are indeed the most sincere form of flattery. The question is – do we flatter God and the people of faith that have touched our lives by imitating their example or do we chose to flatter people like Michael Jordan and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
We must flatter God not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
So many people wonder why their lives are so empty, so hollow, and so frantic. They never consider that it might have something to do with the people that they choose to imitate and the kind of goals that they have set for themselves.
God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us – but that plan and purpose is revealed to us in its fullness only when we are willing to heed his word and follow the example of Jesus and of his faithful disciples and apostles.
If we are not making a difference to others; if our reputations are nothing special; if our lives feel empty and hollow; maybe it is because we are getting too far away from the word of God.
Too far away from those examples of faith and love and hope that are around us, too far away from the source and the inspiration of our faith.
Our Lord Jesus came to give us life and gives us life abundantly –
He came to seek the lost and save sinners and to bring good news to the poor
To proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
To let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favored.
And he shone. People wanted to be near him, to be like him.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be near him, and we can be like him and know the victory that he knew –
“Truly, Truly, I tell you”, said Jesus, “the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father”
I want no one to feel judged today. No one to feel inadequate. This is not what the Gospel is about – nor is it what I want for you.
But I do want you to ask:
What reputation do the churches of the Logan Ministerial Association have in this county?
And what reputation do we have? At home? At work? Wherever we go?
And if you are like me, I want you to ask “What can I do to improve my reputation?”
What can I do to make my church and myself more Godly?
More like the living Christ I believe in – the living Christ who believes in me.
Rev. George Kostas is pastor of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Logan and a member of the Logan Ministerial Association.