A sober warning after 10 years: not all legacies are good.
As we look back with excitement and joy on all that God has done through SMR in the last 10 years, I think it’s more than worth while to take a good look at where are hearts are, personally and as a family. How are we doing? How are you doing?
“They murmured in their tents… “- Psalm 106:25
I dropped out of college and have worked in a warehouse for 14 years. Despite not having a degree in business or something, I feel like I’ve earned at least a couple masters and a doctorate in complaining over the years. From the minute I walk through the doors somebody is complaining. All too often it’s me. I’d like to blame it all on my “secular work environment,” but sadly that’s not all true.
I may have seen a good quantity of complaining at work, but I’ve sadly seen more quality complaining in my life in the church. We Christians sure know how to complain and make it sound good. We cover it as prayer requests or concern for other people. We justify it by telling ourselves we care about “every” injustice or we know what the priorities of the church should be. We’re so quick to downplay the roots of bitterness in our church and lives because it’s just so common.
I don’t write this to complain about complaining. I write to ask 1 simple question;
What will be our legacy 10 years from now?
The writer of Psalm 106 does the same thing with God’s people in the Old Testament. He takes stock of all that God has done and where the people’s hearts were at the time. What is the legacy of God’s people? How are they remembered? It’s actually pretty embarrassing.
Psalm 106 is like a cliff notes version of the Old Testament. It’s sums up the story of God’s chosen people, and in verse after verse we find the people forgetting and complaining. Despite the steadfast love of God mentioned in verse 1, they’re miserable and bitter. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, look at God’s response. In verses 23, 26, 29, 32, and 40 God is moved to righteous anger. He loved them and saved them over and over again and they keep forgetting about it, complaining, and turning to other gods.
Seven Mile Road, let’s not be too quick to judge the Israelites and think too highly of ourselves lest we fall by our own pride. What will we actually be remembered by? What do we want our kids to remember of church when they’re growing up and facing the world? What do want the rest of the world to see?
“Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise?” – Psalm 106:1-2
Let’s start these next 10 years giving thanks and praising God. It won’t be long before we’re tempted to forget and complain about all the little things that annoy us.
“I wish the church was more _______”
“I wish this ministry was more ______”
“I wish we didn’t do this or that”
“I wish the pastors saw my priority list”
The complaints go on. I’ve said them all and I’ve heard them all and I’ve seen the destruction over and over again. Bit by bit the life of the church starts going out. It may stay open for generations, like Israel was, but it will not be as useful to God as it could be. We’ll be marked by ungratefulness and murmuring.
It starts in our homes. Israel’s bitterness started in their tents and spread like a cancer. It starts in our own hearts, till it grows and becomes the heartbeat of the church. We forget God’s goodness. We then become entitled. In the sermon on Acts 6 last year Binu told this story of how to ruin a church. It’s sad but all too true.
But God is still faithful. We are not destroyed. Like Moses and Phinehas before him, Jesus stepped in as our mediator and took God’s wrath for us. God’s love is still steadfast. Do we still care?
There’s the turn. Are we as grateful as we were when we first were saved? Are we thankful for what God has done since then? Are we even looking for him? He gave himself to save us and adopt us into a new family to be used in his continuing plan of redemption. We don’t deserve this. God doesn’t need us to do his work, he wants us to take joy in being chosen and sent.
So let’s leave a legacy of constant remembrance and say with Psalm 103:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5
If you have an interest in contributing to story team, or have a story that you wish to share please contact Jimmy Hettinger at firstname.lastname@example.org