First United Methodist Church, McGregor, TX
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
We're Putting a Face on Grace!

Message from the Pastor

Quality, not quantity.  We’ve heard this phrase many times in our lives and probably used it frequently when numbers don’t meet expectations.  What I mean, of course, it’s better to have fewer in numbers of something when the something is of higher quality than to have many of something of inferior quality.  When I was younger, I couldn’t afford good tools.  I ended up having an abundance of cheap tools that were barely able to do the work they were intended to do and many of them broke during their first use.  I would rather have a few quality tools than a pick-up load of inferior tools.  You get the point.  So, what does this have to do with our faith or the church?

I recently read an article by J. D. Walt, titled, “Why Small is the New Large”.  The focus for the article was the opening lines of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi.  When we read these letters today that were written to the early churches of Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, etc., we tend to think of these as large churches.  After all, some were in big cities.  They were important enough for Paul (and his co-workers) to take the time to write them and visit them, and we know that Paul was a big deal.  God uses their issues and struggles as well as Paul’s guidance to them to inform our faith journeys.  That’s big, right?

In actuality, these were all relatively small gatherings of Christians who met mostly in people’s homes.  They were not large in numbers.  In time, they would grow in numbers, but mostly they were people who deeply desired to be faithful followers of Jesus.  In other words, those who were the early church mostly focused on their personal growth in their relationships to God, through Jesus, being empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Philippians 1:1b reads, “To all God’s HOLY PEOPLE in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.” 

J.D. writes:

The Greek word is “hagios,” and it means “holy” which means something like special, different, distinctive, unlike the prevailing surrounding culture, in the midst of yet set apart. And let’s be clear. The last thing Paul is interested in doing is setting up little clubs of “holier than thou” legalists who measure each others’ performance by their religious activity and who judge the outside world according to their pagan proclivities.  Holiness means one thing and one thing alone: the holy love of God made known through the risen Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In our present culture, obviously many people are not choosing to engage in the life of the church.  This is the reality we live in.  Our success is not going to be measured in the numbers of people who attend, join, or even in the numbers of those whom we serve.  The reality is that God is interested in our personal growth in faith, in relationship to him and in our relationships with one another.  Commitment to “holiness” is the key.  My desire for each of us in the coming year is to strengthen our relationships to God through personal growth.  In other words, we will measure our success in the ways we each grow spiritually, faithfully, and prayerfully as we commit ourselves to leading holy lives.  Quality, not quantity.          

 

Blessings, Pastor Joe