Busy. Perhaps the word that best describes the culture we live in, “busy” has arrived. I’m reminded of the days of working as a university professor, with its crush of class prep, committees, and productions to direct or build props for. Multi-tasking is everywhere, and the hours race by as I move from meeting to meeting, squeezing in time to prep for Christmas Musical rehearsals or production meetings, as well hunting the quiet needed for preparing the sermon and the supporting materials (powerpoint and handouts).
It’s all good, but I wonder about the bottom line.
As I talk with the people that make up the life of the Northwest Church in Shoreline, I always wonder what their bottom line is. The bottom line at the end of the day that makes what they do worth it, the bottom line that serves as the assessment tool we must use to discover our effectiveness in ministry, as well as effectiveness in “stewarding” the gifts, talents, and resources the Holy Spirit has given us.
It can’t be the kind of bottom line the world uses, can it? Maybe “the bottom line” is another of way of saying “purpose” or “mission” or “focus.” The discussion (debate) of the purpose or mission of the church is long and storied, and in many ways is the story of the history of Christ’s church.
Last night, as I was driving to rehearsal, a thread came together in my mind that relates to God’s initial creation, the work of the artist to make a thing, and the Pauline idea of being transformed, or having Christ “formed” in us. I’ve been talking about life being the point of creation, as well as the point of “salvation.” (“I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly”). With that in mind, I keep coming back to the idea of lives that are formed and transformed, becoming new “creations.”
What’s up for grabs in popular culture these days are definitions of nearly everything. What is life? What constitutes the well-lived day? What is primary when it comes to energy spent, resources allocated, and tasks undertaken? This question haunts us at the personal level, the corporate level, and certainly in the gatherings of the people of God. God alone holds the meaning and purpose of life. For me just now, I keep hearing the phrase “lives transformed.” I keep the voice of an elder of a church back in Virginia, a man I stayed with a couple of years ago on a trip to perform Leaving Ruin. He was constantly full of a quiet enthusiasm, and his eye was strong and alive with light. He said of the church there, which was a growing, vibrant place, “If it’s not about changing lives, we don’t do it. We’re just jazzed about watching lives transform.” That’s not a direct quote, but was the gist of the weekend I spent with him.
I think that’s the bottom line. The love of the Christ transforming all the lives who come to Him. Maybe that…is the glory of God.