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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Parting Words

                Parting Words
Parting words are generally important words.  When parents send a child off to college, their final words are filled with the main thing—get enough sleep, eat right, attend classes, and study hard.  When people die, and they have the time and the mental clarity to do so, they share the most important thing they have learned with those they are leaving behind.  All the fluff and nonessential things fall to the side.  This is the last chance to provide positive influence to their loved ones, the last chance to impart wisdom which will keep their children on the right track.  Parting words are limited to the main thing.  They are worth listening to, worth following.

Jesus, before He ascended into Heaven, said some parting words that are important.  He had finished three years of instructing His disciples and leading by example.  He had fulfilled His role as Savior of the world—led a perfect, sinless life, surrendered His life on the cross, and then rose triumphant from the grave.  His time on this earth was coming to an end.  It was time for His parting words.

What did He say?  There were many important things He could have said.  He could have said, “Study the Scripture each day,” but He didn’t.  That would have been a very important command.  He could have said, “Build big, beautiful churches in which to worship Me.”  He didn’t say that either.  He could have said, “Build schools to educate your children, and universities to turn out Christian scholars.”  But, He didn’t say that either.

No, Jesus got down to the primary thing, the main thing, the most important thing.  In Acts 1:8, He said just this:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

There was no mistaking Jesus’ intent.  His disciples (that includes all believers) have one primary reason for existence, one primary responsibility in life—to serve as witnesses for Jesus among our acquaintances, in our town, in our state, in our nation, and throughout the world.  This is our role as individuals and it is to be the primary responsibility of the Christian Church.  There is no confusion, no ambiguity.  Our individual goal and the goal of the church, is to witness to the truth of Jesus and to share the Good News everywhere.

There are lots of good things we can do and lots of good things the Church can do, but the main thing, the primary thing is Jesus’ charge to be His witnesses wherever we go.

It makes me consider how I live my life.  It also makes me take a look at my own church.  Does it have its priorities straight?  Is it focused on Jesus’ priority, sharing the Good News?

Is it exercising good stewardship with the finite funds it has available to it?  When I look at my church budget, is it clear that the main thing is the main thing?  Are all the programs of my church aligned toward the main thing?  If I look at my church’s expenditures from a cost/impact perspective will I see that we are exercising good stewardship?

Is my church, is your church, taking Jesus’ parting words to heart?  Do Jesus’ parting words focus and align your programs for maximum effectiveness in serving as His witness to the world?  Perhaps we should all do a cost/impact analysis of our projects and programs to see if they are aligned with Jesus’ parting words.  His parting words are His most important advice to you and me and to His church.

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