Jesus and the Celebration of Human Achievement

Tuesday Re-mix –

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

This year, my home church celebrated a significant birthday.  It is 150 years old.  That, my friends, means something in excess of 7,000 covered dish suppers.  Think about that.  So we are spending all of this year reflecting on the last 150 years.  It is truly great fun, even for those of us who are not necessarily history buffs.  It is really interesting thinking about the historical events going on around those 13 dear souls who founded our church.  Can you even imagine trying to start a new church at the same time the country is dividing for the Civil War?

So, all of this reflecting and celebrating  got me thinking about the things we celebrate in the church.

I believe in the celebration of human achievement.  I believe that, especially in a “volunteer army” like the church, pats on the back for a job well done are critical.  I would even go so far as to say that every ministry team leader needs to be intentional about celebrating when volunteers get it “right”.  That is just good leadership.

I also believe in taking the occasional glance back in history to remember (i.e., to celebrate) the sacrifices of those who have gone before us in order to make our lives (and ministries) possible.  Again, that is just good leadership to keep us connected to our heritage.

But among God’s people, there is a far greater focus when it comes to celebrating.  Far more important than celebrating human achievement in the church is the discerning, marking and celebrating what God has done among us.  Like Joshua erecting the stone memorial so as to say, “Thus far hath the Lord brought us”, the church must learn to identify God’s hand at work and to celebrate God’s activity in its history, to recognize it in its present, and to anticipate it in its future.  At a time when many personalities in the American church are busy building little kingdoms unto themselves and patting themselves on the back for their superiority, this seems like a timely word.

I believe Jesus also recognized this.  When he saw the Pharisees clamoring for the most esteemed seats at their own covered dish supper in an effort to “celebrate” their own individual statuses, he commented about how misguided that thinking was.  So as I ponder that  passage within the context of the ongoing celebration at my own church, I am reminded of how important it is that we get this celebration right…that we focus our celebration foremost on what God has done, and that we keep the celebration of human achievement in perspective.

Remember what God has done.  And keep the 7,000 (or so) covered dish suppers in their right place in history.

© Blake Coffee
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