As I watched the throng roll in to the 10:15 service Sunday morning, I was amazed at how much of a mission field even Sunday morning worship at Antioch can be. What I mean by that is you've got all kinds of broken and hurting people piling in, and they're people who need to experience the saving grace of JESUS just as much as anyone sleeping off a Sunday morning hangover. People need JESUS. It's that simple, and as we see in 1 & 2 Corinthians and in Revelation, even Christians have a need to repent and believe the gospel. I love our church.
Jimmy's message this morning focused heavily on 1 Corinthians 1:12: "Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.'"
How many of us, he queried, would say, "I am of John Piper," or "I am of Beth Moore," or "I am of Mark Driscoll"? The example that got the most murmurs among the congregation was, "How many of us would say, 'I am of Antioch'?"
Jimmy's picture of a tightrope walker, keeping his eyes on a fixed point, was a good illustration. While we can learn and draw from many sources, our eyes and hearts should be fixed on the author and finisher of our faith, JESUS. His message had a ring of ecumenism in it, and I've been a big fan of ecumenism for the past few years.
Jimmy also told an intriguing story about meeting William P. Young, the author of The Shack, while on an airplane ride. I've had theological issues with The Shack, and Jimmy alluded to certain theological concerns he had as well, but the point of the story was to say that we tend to be less judgmental of people once we get to know them, once we get to know their story. Apparently Young and Jimmy had a good chat, and Young was able to share his heart to let Jimmy know where he was coming from on many of the issues he wrote about in The Shack.
That makes me think of a story in Stephen R. Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey was traveling on a subway with another man -- a stranger -- and that man's two unruly children. The children were apparently hellions, running amok while the father sat there motionless. Covey become agitated and confronted the man. The man replied, something to this effect, "We just got back from the hospital where their mother died. I don't know how to handle it and I guess they don't either." Covey's mindset toward the man changed immediately, he called it a paradigm shift.
So to sum up what I got from this morning's message: We are of Christ, no one other.
I remember being on my bed, finishing up C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity for the first time. That was 1994; I was 17 years old. In my childhood I was introduced to Lewis through his Narnia series, but Mere Christianity was my first foray into deeper Lewisian waters -- I was not disappointed.
Lewis' words struck a chord with me. The "latent Christianity" (his words) that infused the world of Narnia, was now blatant Christianity. His words pierced me and illuminated me; the Holy Spirit stirred me through his words.
I think the word epiphany would describe my thoughts and feelings as I finished the book. I'll never forget the last three paragraphs:
Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life.
Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead.
Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ, and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
For the next couple of years, I ate Lewis' books. I digested them. They became part of me. To this day, I count Lewis as a friend. I feel like I know him personally.
Within a year of reading Mere Christianity I was submerged into the Holy Spirit culture of Highland Baptist Church. I was still a sinner, living a double life in so many ways, but several forces were chipping away at my soul: My childhood faith, my newfound love for C.S. Lewis, and the stirrings of the Holy Spirit within my heart. I was incubating.