Farewell to a Church, Part 7: A Charge

Last Sunday was my final day with the church that I have been working at for the past year or so.  The pastor asked me to speak and I am now posting a slightly modified version of the manuscript here in bite sized chunks.

And so the third thing I want to do this morning is to leave you all with a charge of sorts.

And that charge is to keep your foundation in this gospel.

Do not tolerate teaching that removes the gospel from this world to focus on an “other” reality somewhere else.

And do not tolerate teaching that selfishly hides from the reality of life in this world, the reality that desperately needs the hope we have.

Instead, cling to the gospel of hope.

The director of University Christian Fellowship gave a talk shortly after the earthquake in Haiti and one of the things he said that has really stuck with me was this: “If our gospel cannot make sense to a survivor of the earthquake in Haiti who has lost everything, if it cannot be meaningful to them, if it cannot give them comfort and hope, then it is not worth believing.”

The second part of this charge is to say that I’m not sure it’s enough to just talk about hope from the comfort of our lives here that are largely sheltered from the harsher realities of this world. We have the message of hope, but we are not meant to keep it to ourselves. We as a church are tasked with bringing that hope to those who desperately need it.

I have been so thankful that this church does make an effort to do exactly that. Whatever else you do, never stop making that effort to give the hope of the gospel to those who need it. And always be looking for new ways to share our hope with the hopeless.

To close this out I want to read one of my favorite hymns, a hymn that I think perfectly captures this message of hope even in dark times and has been a tremendous comfort to me over the years. It’s called Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul:

Dear refuge of my weary soul, on Thee, when shadows rise,

On Thee, when waves of trouble roll my fainting hope relies.

To thee I tell each rising grief for though alone can heal.

Thy word can bring a sweet relief to every pain I feel.

But oh, when gloomy doubts prevail I fear to call Thee mine,

The springs of comfort seem to fail and all my hopes decline.

Yet gracious God, where shall I flee? Though art my only trust.

And still my soul would cling to thee, though prostrate in the dust.

Hast thou not bid me seek thy face and shall I seek in vain?

Or can the ear of sovereign grace be deaf when I complain?

No still the ear of sovereign grace attends the mourner’s prayer.

Oh may I ever find access to breathe my sorrows there.

Thy mercy seat is open still, here let my soul retreat.

With humble hope attend they will and wait beneath thy feet.

Thy mercy seat is open still, here let my soul retreat.

With humble hope attend they will and rest beneath thy feet.

 

May this gospel of hope ever comfort us, and may we be used to bring that same comfort to many others. Amen.

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