Recently I’ve had the opportunity to do some pastoral transition work in a small town in eastern British Columbia. In the short time I’ve been there, I’ve been struck by the eclectic nature of the community — people from so many different parts of the world and places in life — drawn there by the beauty of the rugged mountains and pleasant river valley, and the opportunity for ranching and recreation. This eclectic element is also quite dramatically reflected in the life of the church. It also shows up in some theological differences. From a pastoral perspective the challenge in these circumstances is to find a common vision that brings everyone, despite their differences, on the same page.
I think the answer to this need for a common vision is found in the main theme of the Bible. There may be many opinions about the major theme of the Christian Scriptures, but I don’t think it would be hard to find agreement among everyone that the one main theme of the Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself was well aware of how the Scriptures pointed to the coming of the Messiah and how He Himself was the fulfillment of its prophecies (John 5:39, Luke 24:27). Beyond His own references to Jesus’ place in the Scriptures, the Apostle Paul writes extensively about the centrality of Jesus Christ — in creation (Colossians 1:16), in the church (Ephesians 1:23), and in the consummation of all of human history (Ephesians 3:21).
In view of this obvious fact and revelation, it seems reasonable then to conclude that the exaltation of Jesus Christ should be our main individual interest and of the church body to which we belong. If the revelation of Jesus Christ is God’s big theme throughout human history, then it is logical that all of His people should give heart and soul to this one main purpose — the revelation and exaltation of Jesus. Referring specifically to His death on a cross, Jesus said, But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself (John 12:32). Historically, it is true, that the death of Jesus has drawn a host of people to God because it has been the means of their reconciliation with Him. But practically, it is also true, that as the righteousness of Jesus is seen in His death (as well as in His resurrection) He continues to draw people to Himself.
And as the church is united in this same pursuit (of presenting a true revelation of Jesus Christ) it, no doubt, will be successful in its ministry. When Jesus is presented in all of His glory and fullness, people can’t help but be drawn to Him. Therefore, it seems to me, that it is the church’s main responsibility to reveal the wonder and beauty of this Person.
But how should this be done? That is the question! The simple answer is that as Jesus is revealed in the lives of individual Christians, He will also be revealed fully through the church body of believers. It seems to me that this is the essence of what it means to go and make disciples — to be Christians in all of our relationships, in the way we work, in the way we serve, in the way we talk, and in the things we do, and then to give ourselves to helping others become this way as well through the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His Word.
My task as a pastor then (or transitional pastor, for that matter) should be to give all my attention to how Christ can be “lifted up” in the community of God’s people and in the community in which they reside. This will involve the service of worship on Sunday mornings (or whenever the church community gathers for worship) and also in the way the people live in the community and in the way that they serve together in the larger community. The objective is the revelation of Jesus Christ, for it is in the revelation of God’s wonderful Son that people are drawn to consider the greatness of His Person, repenting of their sin, and turning their lives over to His salvation and control.