The Long View - Come and See
Sometimes when you make it a priority as a school administrator to get out of your office and into the classrooms and halls, you come upon things you don’t always want to or at least expect to see or hear.
I’ve come across a student who didn’t make down to the nurse before they were ill. #yuck! I’ve witnessed a teacher running down the hall to try to be sure she made it to class on time. I’ve found a high school student “bee-bopping” out of the teacher’s lounge with a coke and snickers in hand from the vending machines.
I’ve also seen acts of kindness like students helping someone gather their belongings up after their book bag broke. I’ve seen colleagues during their planning period comfort one another in times of need. I even overheard a first grader tell a classmate not worry about leaving their lunch on the bus because she would share hers.
Of course, sometimes you might run into folks talking about you when you are out and about. Such was the case recently. I was coming around the corner where a group of teachers was gathered and a teacher noted I was hard to reach on Sundays. The comment was made that I was always at church.
One new teacher noted that she heard I worked at a church, but then one of the “old timers” at the school who knew me before I began serving at LaFayette said, “Yeah, but he went every week even before he started working at a church.”
Her response carried an air of disbelief about someone going to church every week even when they were not paid to do it!
Another person chimed in and said that her family hadn’t been to church in nearly a year and nothing had happened to them. She said, “We might go Easter Sunday but I doubt it. I wonder why folks go at all?”
I wanted to jump into the conversation but decided in my position it wasn’t appropriate to do so.
However, the conversation did make me wonder what I might have said.
How would I respond to someone who said that they don’t go to church and nothing has happened?
And what is my answer to why I go to church in what is an increasingly non-ecclesiastical age?
My first response is the fact that nothing has happened to you or your family because you have not been in church is exactly what is sad. It is sad that you and your loved ones are not experiencing the love of God found by living in community as part of the family of God. It is sad you are unchanged because you are missing out on experiencing the grace of Jesus Christ found in an active relationship with him. My concern is not about God possibly “getting you” for not going to church but about you not receiving what God has to give you and your loved ones from time spent in worship and study and service and fellowship.
Regarding why I go to church, my answer has evolved over time.
I think it does that for all of us as we go through life’s journey.
But my best answer now is that I go to worship and serve and study through the community called the church because I am committed to living toward God’s promised day — a day when everything is finally and forever right. It’s a day we have never seen, and a day that is almost impossible to imagine. But it is a day we trust as a community of believers, for it is the result of God’s undying love, and we base our lives on the promise of that day.
Of course, this view is easily mocked by our world. We live in a society that wants what it wants immediately—if not sooner. But ours is a faith not based on immediacy but on belief even in that which we cannot see. For Christians it’s all about “the long view.”
Webster’s defines “the long view” as thinking about the things that might happen in the future rather than only about the things that are happening now.
Any good financial advisor tells an investor that they should take the long view when considering where to put their money.
That is even better advice for us when considering where we should put our life.
I have come to realize, that if we take the long view, it’s obvious that the risen Christ is at work in the world, in the church and in our very lives.
Looking at the past we can see what God has done. This knowledge should embolden us to imagine the joys of what God is doing!
The good news is the joy found in the power and promise of the resurrection is not just for life after death but available in the present.
So I guess my answer about why I go to church is that because of my faith in the promises of tomorrow, I try to live differently today. And that I hope I live with (as the song I learned at Camp Harmony says) a joy that is down in heart.
And then I hope I will respond to them with the words from John 1:39 - “Come and See.”