In light of the news coming out of Willow Creek Community Church this week, it would be easy for us to throw stones, point fingers, and condemn in moments like this. Regrettably, this is what Evangelicalism has become known for — our judgement of others and raging hypocrisy to a watching world. There is a better way.
In his book The Mark of the Christian, Francis Schaeffer understood the prayer of Jesus in John 17 as “the final apologetic”. In other words, it would be our Christian love and unity that would prove to the world “that you (Father God) sent me (Jesus) and that you love them (believers) as much as you love me” (John 17:23). As a small and insignificant church plant in the shadows of Willow Creek, we do not operate in isolation or go unaffected by moments like this. We presumably share the most important thing together — an adoptive Father that has given us new life. It doesn’t get any more personal than this. This is a family matter that is open for all to see.
Brothers and sisters, we have an opportunity today.
May we rediscover our unity under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
May we be reminded we serve first the King and His Kingdom over the insignificant kingdoms found in our churches, denominations, nations, politicians, leaders, and self.
May we extend love and grace to those who are hurting, confused, and afraid.
May we wait patiently for the truth to make itself known and be fully revealed.
May we exhibit self-control in the moments of chaos and confusion, knowing this is the posture of a Spirit-led believer.
May we pursue health and vitality in our churches centered on the Gospel.
May we be reminded that our responsibility as believers is to pursue graceful restoration with our brothers and sisters who are overcome by sin.
May we reconsider our daily personal call to “take up your cross daily, and follow [Jesus]” (Luke 9:23), and to “nail the passions and desires of [your] sinful nature to His cross and crucify them there” (Galatians 5:24).
May we have the humility to admit to and repent of our sin, whether it be individually or institutionally.
May we continue to pursue unity and love among our brothers and sisters under Christ, even when it’s difficult.
May we relentlessly seek our restored identities in Christ — defined by His cross and purposed for a new life in His Kingdom.
And may we regularly pray for Willow Creek, all evangelical churches, and their leaders across the world that we would continue to return to our first love — our new life together in Christ Jesus and the message of His Gospel.
By the Cross; for the Kingdom,