Okay, I’ll admit it; one of my all-time favorite bands is the Eagles. When Gwyn and I go to Cabo San Lucas, we drive to Todos Santos to have lunch at the Hotel California. There must be at least a dozen or so “Hotel Californias” all claiming to be THE Hotel California made famous by the Eagles. Now the Eagles themselves would be the first to admit their memories have been clouded by their use of certain substances and excessive libations. So even they don’t know for sure which one is the real Hotel California. But the one in Todos Santos works for me because about every thirty minutes or so the sound of the Eagles singing Hotel California escapes the bar and envelopes the dining area and lobby.
One of my favorite Eagles’ songs is Frail Grasp on the Big Picture. The recurring refrain is a series of variations on:
“Frail grasp on the big picture
Light fading and the fog is getting thicker
It's a frail grasp on the big picture”
It’s human nature to focus on the near and the now. Since churches are made up of human beings, it’s not surprising that churches typically focus on the near and the now. Way too many churches have a “frail grasp on the big picture.”
We are so busy looking at each other, listening to each other, pandering to each other’s whims and wishes that we fail to see the unchurched, the unbelieving, and the needy in our community. We are so focused on the American culture wars and secularization of our society that we fail to see our Christian sisters and brothers around the world who live with real persecution. We are so intent on our own spirituality that we fail to be intentional and intense about reaching lost people across the street or the world. Too many of us are inward-focused and narcissistic. Far too many of us have a “frail grasp on the big picture.”
This individual failure results in entire churches losing sight of why they exist. The Church, and therefore any church, exists to fulfill the Great Commission and live out the Great Command. Churches are busy. Schedules are full. We have programs upon programs. But far too often, we are not baptizing new believers. And far too often the “others” we are to love as ourselves, have no clue that we love them.
When, and to any degree, a church loses sight of its purpose, the more the light fades and thicker the fog becomes.
Grasping the Big Picture Once Again
For us as Christians and churches, the Big Picture is big but surprisingly simple. We exist to make disciples. We exist to make Christ-followers. That begs the question, “What does a mature disciple look like?” What kind of Christ-followers are we to make? We are to make disciples:
Who Love God
Mature disciples first and foremost love God. When asked which commandment in the Law was the greatest, Jesus responded, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Who Obey God
Mature disciples obey God. In issuing us our marching orders, Jesus said, “...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Who Serve God
Mature disciples serve God. The second part of Jesus’ response to the question about the greatest commandment of the Law was, “The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” On another occasion, Jesus gave us a glimpse of Judgment Day saying, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” It is quite clear, mature Christ-followers serve God by serving others.
Who Make Disciples
Mature disciples make disciples. With all the authority of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave His followers His marching orders to all who bear His name, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...”
It never ceases to amaze me to see what God does when we keep a firm grasp on the Big Picture. God blesses when we look beyond the now and near. God blesses when we look beyond ourselves. God blesses when we focus on the lost, the poor, the hurting, and the needy. May you experience God’s blessing in abundance as you hang on to the Big Picture for dear life!