User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
 

The old, godly way—"It's simply passé," they claim.
But "No way," I say, and correcting that's my aim.

WE WERE CELEBRATING the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of our local church. We held a banquet on Saturday evening and conducted special services on Sunday. At both the banquet and the weekend services, there was plenty of opportunity for members of the congregation to reminisce about the church’s many years of fellowship and ministry.

Old pictures were gathered and included in videos shown during the weekend events. Scheduled speakers with ties to the church shared their stories and encouraged the congregation. And several others were given opportunities to talk about the church’s history.

People recounted the church’s past and its development from what began as a small home fellowship into what it is today. Among other things, the video presentations highlighted various steps in the church’s growth, such as the movement of the home fellowship into its first building, and the congregation’s involvement in several construction programs after that.

But as the activities of the celebration progressed, there were two topics that became most prominent during all of the weekend’s activities. Those two topics were, the faithfulness of God, and the value that members of the congregation brought and added to the church over the years.

Clearly, not much would have been worth celebrating about the prior seventy-five years if it had not been for God’s faithfulness. And although the growth and building programs were rightly commemorated, it became clear that the lives of church members, themselves—their faithfulness, dedication, love, sacrifice, and personal ministries—were what actually defined the true value in our church’s history.

The edifices we build as places of worship and ministry may bring us a feeling of accomplishment and testify to a positive image, but we must remind ourselves that in God’s eyes it is never the size or splendor of a physical building that defines the success of a church. When Christ gave himself for the Church (Ephesians 5:25), He did not give himself for a building. The Lord’s Church is a living, breathing organism. And it consists not of brick and mortar but of people like you and me.

I am not saying that God has no interest in the structures we build and maintain for the purpose of facilitating the gathering together and work of believers, but it is the actual life and work of the Church in carrying out the Lord’s Great Commission that God is most interested in. When any local church is examined by the Holy Spirit, it will be the faithfulness, love, and actions (or lack thereof) of its congregation—the people—that will either commend or condemn its existence—not its facilities.

As we celebrated the anniversary of our church, we rejoiced in the lives that touched and blessed so many of us through the years. We praised God for their dedication to spreading the Good News of the gospel. They became our examples of how we also should live our lives and faithfully serve God.

∼∼∼

We read in the Old Testament of a time of great apostasy when God’s people had failed to faithfully follow Him. They began trusting in things made by their own hands, and they allowed their affluence and pride to turn their hearts away from their Lord. God eventually brought judgment upon them. And at that time, God raised up the prophet Jeremiah, who delivered to the people both God’s accusation against them and His solution to their suffering.

Here is something Jeremiah told the people:

This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that's not the road we want!’” (Jeremiah 6:16 NLT).

Our spiritual forebears prayed over us, led us to Christ, encouraged us, taught us, and prepared a clear path for us to walk in so we could follow them in the faith. They did that so we might gain eternal life and share in the fullness of the same Holy Spirit who empowered them to live lives approved by God. They didn't refuse to walk in the old, godly way. And they took our hands and did their best to inspire us to go with them.

Generations of faithful believers have followed those who went before them. Then they in turn blazed the trail for the next generation. And as they did, they, too, found that old, godly way to be a good one. In fact it's the best one, for it is indeed the very same path walked upon by the very first Christian believers—the Church born on the Day of Pentecost. That path has stood the test of time.

Every generation is faced with deciding whether or not the values and beliefs of previous generations are such as should be incorporated into their own. Today, as it was in the days of Jeremiah, multitudes are choosing to walk down the wrong path. Like the people Jeremiah addressed, they also look at the old, godly way and reject it. And that will prove to be a big mistake.

Every path before us leads somewhere. Make sure you choose the right path as you journey through life. Even though the old, godly path may not always be the trendiest or easiest to walk in, you will one day be glad you chose it. For every step forward along that old, dependable path leads to yet another dimension and experience of New Life in Christ.

Walk down that path, and take someone with you.


L. Edward Hazelbaker
      Share This Article: