By David C. Shultz
Editor’s note—It’s a bright new day in the Church of God, and our future looks even brighter. But we as the Church of God have a rich heritage that must not be forgotten. We thank God for blessing us with dynamic and inspirational voices throughout our history, voices that spoke into the direction of our movement. Many of these voices still need to be heard. The wisdom of their words speaks volumes to us today, just as it did then. Thus, we invite you to take a journey back in time through select monthly articles “From the Archives.”
Some time ago, I read a helpful article on ways to reduce stress. The author’s point was that too many of us worry too much about too little. His answer was this: Learn to say, “It doesn’t matter,” to the trivial and overblown in your life. In other words, spend your time on what counts.
This is good advice for a compulsive person such as me who has been known to clean out his desk instead of make an important telephone call. My wife’s favorite plaque reads, “An immaculate house is the sign of a misspent life.” This is not an excuse for shabby housekeeping. Karon, a great wife and mother, has learned to say, “It doesn’t matter” if the dishes aren’t done every meal when there is a Monopoly game to be played.
Deciding what matters in the church is not as easy as it sounds. Our culture today, which is big on “alternate life-styles” and little on the value of Christianity, believes most of what Christians do, in fact, does not matter.
Whether or not the Church of God will thrive—or survive—in the next century hinges on whether we concentrate on what matters. To do this we must forgo what does not matter. To our credit, through the years we have decided that some formerly cherished beliefs no longer matter—not wearing neckties or corsets, for example. The question for today is this: Are we majoring on other minors?
I am personally convinced that the Church of God matters. Jesus matters. Reconciliation with God matters. Forgiveness matters. Integrity, purity, and truth all matter.
On the other hand, I am not so sure style of preaching matters. Or where the ushers stand. Or who is asked to preach at Anderson Camp Meeting. Much of our debate about marginal issues generates heat but not light. In the meantime, our neighbors are busy. Our children are growing up. A thousand voices clamor for our attention. What is our voice calling out to them?
Does your congregation have both a mission and a vision statement? Do you? Where are you going? Why? Day by day we must ask, Does this matter? Is this relevant? One hundred years from now, will this make any difference?
As we in our congregations and agencies plan our work, we must ruthlessly ask, Will this reach people for Christ? Will this make us truly holy (not just happy)? Will this bring a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name? Will this strengthen my family? Then we must choose what matters and discard the rest.
Jesus announced his mission statement in words from Isaiah 61:1–2: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19 NIV1984).
As one poet has said, “Only one life. ’Twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
David Shultz is the former editor-in-chief of Warner Press. Article originally published in the August 1993 issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission.
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