It’s the beginning of a new year, and with that comes new opportunities. Whether you make resolutions or set goals, let’s all ask ourselves, “What can we as the leaders of Christ’s Church offer Jesus this year?” What difference can we make in His name? We have just celebrated the birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What if we were presenting gifts to Jesus?
My list for all of us would include:
- A concentrated effort by the North American church to do all we can to eliminate hunger and poverty throughout the world. (We could if we would.)
- A return to biblical literacy by believers. A resolve to live by the truth of God’s Word — not just hear it, but do it!
- A prayer that not one more North American pastor would be accused of immorality and/or inappropriate use of the church’s money.
- A gift of ourselves to our Lord to live in such a way that He would be pleased and glorified.
Now, to offer these gifts to Jesus, we are going to have to work together. We are going to have to show goodwill toward one another. We are going to need more unity than we demonstrated this past year. We need to remember that, regardless of denominational affiliation, all pastors face similar challenges, and none of us can succeed in isolation. Our theologies may clash at times, our form of worship can be different, our traditions have been formed on separate journeys, but the human predicament we address is much the same.
How often do you “cross over” to fellowship with one whose theology and practices might vary from yours, but from whom you can gain new and meaningful insight into ministry? I am convinced that we can learn from one another. During this season of goodwill, what better way to spread peace and love than to reach out to fellow clergy and foster new relationships that will result in a stronger church? Why not make a point of having coffee with a clergy colleague for the sake of becoming acquainted, bringing encouragement, and absorbing edification — even though you might disagree on some points.
Bottom line: We really do have so much more in common than we have differences. Call a colleague this week. Make plans to reach out to other clergy during this next year. When there is genuine fellowship among Christian leaders, there can be unity between Christian people, especially on the things that matter most, in spite of our diversity.
“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Just think, we all have the privilege of preaching that same message of hope that was delivered to the shepherds hundreds of years ago — a message still relevant and life-changing. This year, a number of people who need that kind of hope will be in your church. Some will be lonely, depressed, or afraid. Many will have lost loved ones; others will be sick. Some will have lost jobs. Some will be separated from children who are also away from God. There will be those with sad hearts camouflaged by smiling faces. They all need hope! Tell them what Jesus would tell them: “I have come to offer you hope, with love and a sense of belonging. I’m here for everyone, including the lonely and broken.”
Colleague, please make sure this message is clearly told and not lost in the daily grind to which so many of us have already returned. Be bold. Preach and teach the truth with passion and transparency. Let your people know how blessed and thrilled you are to serve them, and feed them with the sustenance of Scripture. Emmanuel — God with us! Now, that is what I call hope!
So, let’s add to the list that I started above of some things we can offer Jesus this year the proclamation and demonstration of goodwill, hope, belonging, and love for everyone we encounter.
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10-11).