|Tape Measure by Leo Reynolds source cc-by-2.0|
- Right now we are daily treated by news outlets to polls tracking how Americans will most likely vote in the presidential election.
- We watch our favorite teams closely, our enthusiasm rising or fading as we measure their success by the score board.
- We see how much closer we are to retirement by looking at the amount in our investment portfolio.
- We examine the growth of our children by lining them up against the wall and placing pencil marks flush with the top of their head, marking the date.
- We step up on the the weight scale hoping the needle is at a lower number than the last time we placed ourselves on it.
In our journey with Christ, as people of discipleship and church communities, we do the same...we measure what matters. The question we need to ask is, are we measuring the right things? Are we measuring what matters to us or are we measuring what matters to God? Here are realities we measure, reflected in these common questions asked by the church: How many people attend your church? How much money is in your collections? How many children's programs do you have? How large is your building?
What we measure is a SURE indicator of what is important to us. As we continue in God's Story of Grace, I want to look at Jacob-like priorities versus God-like priorities. Then we will look at a sure way to measure what matters to us as disciples of Christ.
What do you need to know?
“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
- All peoples of the earth blessed
- Descendants of Jacob inheriting the land of Israel
- Fulfillment of His promises He originally made to Jacob's grandfather (Abraham) and his father (Isaac) which started in Genesis 12:1-3.
What matters to Jacob is covering his own hide. Jacob is too self-absorbed to get the importance of this promise. What matters to Jacob is not walking in the journey of God's larger Story of Grace and seeing the nations "blessed." What matters to him is feeding and covering his own skin. Look how Jacob responds to God's promises...
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Genesis 28:20-22)
- Food to eat
- Clothes to wear
- Safety on his trip
Incidentally, God was with Jacob and physically provided everything he needed. But what is telling is that Jacob requires God to fulfill all these demands before Jacob would allow the Lord to be his God. Do all these things I ask and "...then the Lord will be my God..." Is this not the height of self-absorption? But do we do this today? "Lord, I will serve you, once you meet these conditions: Give me a good paying job, the woman that I want or the man; bring my husband/wife back home to me; heal my body, straighten up my finances, save all of my children; then, Lord, I will serve you!"
Here is the question for us...what do we measure in our discipleship and church? It indicates what matters to us...
- Numbers of people being baptized into a life of discipleship
- Numbers of people participating in real discipleship
- Numbers of people coming to faith in Christ
- Amount of financial contributions (90% of which usually pays for overhead costs)
- Numbers of people who showed up on a church service
- Debt reduction level for recent building expansion
- For people to come to faith in Christ
- For discipleship to grow
- For deliverance from oppressive evil in your community
- For people to get feeling better who are sick
- For someone who needs a job
- For a good weather at the annual church picnic
- For traveling mercies as people go on vacation or "snow birds" heading south (somewho lives in the cold American north heading to the warmer south during the winter)