Imagine walking into a new place for the first time. Maybe it is the type of place you have been before. Just not in a long time, and not necessarily this exact location. Like going to an art museum for the first time since that fifth-grade field trip. Or visiting a nursing home for the first time since your grandfather passed away 15 years ago. It isn’t really foreign, but it certainly isn’t like home either. It’s just – weird.
So as you set foot in this uncomfortable setting, you begin to try and find something familiar that you can really grasp. Maybe it is recognizing a painting from 40 years earlier and remembering one little fact that your fifth grade teacher told you – which is most certainly only partially true because, well, it’s been 40 years! Or maybe it is remembering a funny story about your grandfather from 15 years earlier and sharing it with anyone who would listen. You are just trying to ease the awkwardness.
As I mentioned in our first blog last week, our church’s mission is to reach the de-churched population of Greenville. And while visiting churches for some people might be a non-threatening endeavor, for the de-churched it can be different. It isn’t completely new territory. But it certainly isn’t comfortable either. It is more like the examples I gave above. And I know this because the awkwardness of returning to the church is part of my own story. Simply put, it can be really uncomfortable.
And what do we do? We try to find anything from our past that is present in this new setting. Something we can grab a hold of. Like a lifeline for the awkwardness!
So as I thought about what our first core value should be as a church, I thought that it needed to be something that eased the awkwardness for a first-time visitor. Something that anyone with a church background could recognize and grab a hold of. And, most importantly, something that would be an appropriate foundation for everything else we would do. The ultimate lifeline!
What is that ultimate lifeline? It is the Bible – God’s inspired, infallible, and inerrant word.
The Bible is the message of the gospel in its entirety. It is the good news of a triune God who rescues His people from the world, from the Devil, and especially from themselves. It is the proclamation of salvation that comes freely to us because God promised it to be so. It is the story of how God’s Son, Jesus Christ, accomplished that mighty work through His death on the cross, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into Heaven. It is the truth that the Holy Spirit is at work opening people’s eyes and hearts to receive this salvation. And it is the promise of a fast approaching day when all things will be made right, sin will be eradicated from the world, and God’s people will dwell eternally in the New Heavens and the New Earth. What a lifeline!
The Bible is the ultimate authority for our lives because it is the perfect word from the Creator of the universe. The Bible is the only message of salvation because it is the only written word from the Redeemer of sinners. And the Bible is the first place we are to turn because it is what the Holy Spirit specifically illuminates to us.
So our first core value at Verdae Pres. is “The Bible: First and Foremost.” We want the entirety of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, to set the path for our church. We want our leadership to submit to it, and we want our members to mine the depths of it. And, to the point of this blog, we want our visitors to recognize it and grasp for it. For it to be the first thing that they pick up on, and for it to be the foremost thing they take away. The ultimate lifeline for the awkwardness of an uncomfortable situation. And, more importantly, the ultimate lifeline that will end a lifelong search for that infinite treasure. Even if it has been 40 years!
“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand. I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.” – Psalm 119:130-131