"Let Christ be everything." Parting words
How do you say goodbye well?
I was the director of a ministry to youth and families for several years before we followed the call of God to move up to the Northeast and pastor a church. This is what I said right before we left.
This is a bittersweet time for me…
There are a lot of exciting things happening for us but we also have to say goodbye to a lot of people that we love. And in the midst of it, I have been thinking about what I might say to all of you in light of the fact that for the last 3 years, I have sought to “pour myself out for the service of your faith” (Phil. 2:17). As I considered this and my time with you all, I thought back to the very first meeting and the very first message I gave to you. When I stood up there and I told you our plan as a ministry and the vision I had for you, I can gladly say that nothing has changed. The same things I desired then are the same things I desire now.
My closing word for you is this: Let Christ be everything.
One of the most powerful moments in scripture
One of the most powerful moments in all of scripture is when an imprisoned Paul reflects on his life and states this in Philippians 1:20-21:
“it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Do you hear the weight of what Paul is saying here? Paul is in prison, not knowing if he is going to die any day now. He has hopes but knows his life may be coming to an abrupt end. To this, he says… “My hope, more than anything, is that when my time comes I will do whatever I can to make Jesus look great! If I am to live, then I want Christ to look great in the way I live! I will continue working my heart out for him, telling everyone about him, doing whatever he tells me. But if I die, if I am to die, I want Christ to look great in the way I die.”
To live is Christ, and to die is gain. It’s a win-win! If I live, then I can live for Christ. If I die, I can die for Christ and go to be with him. Christ is everything.
A life that counts for something
Have you ever considered if your life will count for something great?
I think many of us want to matter, to make a difference, to know that our lives have meant something in the world. Unfortunately, too many young people don’t care at all if their life was to matter for anything. There are many differing opinions on what makes someone great but I want to be like Paul. To Paul, someone who is great is someone who makes Jesus look great.
If someone was to look at your life, would they see Jesus? Does the goodness and greatness and glory of Christ shine in your life? Are you so consumed with pleasing him and enjoying him and living for him, that it just bursts from your life? Maybe or maybe not, but it could!
Let Christ be everything to you.
Going to hard places
We have been praying and asking that God show us where he wanted us to go and what he wanted us to do. Over time, God fixed our eyes on the Northeast. Not because we are from there but because it is the most lost area of the United States. There are 15 million people living in New England and 13.8 million of them don’t know Jesus and are on a path leading to an eternal hell. We are going there because Jesus is worthy of their worship and we want them to know him.
And I don’t know what’s going to happen. I could pour out my life there for 40 years and not see one person come to Jesus. I could serve the church there and be rejected for the rest of my ministry. I could share Jesus a million times and, in the end, be just thought of as a weirdo. But we are driven by this one idea: that Jesus loves to save sinners like us and he wants to save some there. And in doing so, they might give him the worship he deserves.
It’s all about Jesus.
Let Christ be everything
Now, I don’t know what God’s story for your life will be. But I want to plead with you right now with every ounce of passion I can … You will not find more joy or more fulfillment or more purpose than when you say, “Jesus, I am going to let you be everything to me.” My life is a blank check, my passions and dreams are all yours. Take me where you want me to go. Do with my life what you want. Just God, oh God, let my life make Jesus look great. If you do that, your life will make a huge difference in this world.
Let Christ be everything.
As we leave, there is nothing that would make me more happy than to hear a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now… that you are walking in the truth, that you love Jesus, and are living your life for him. If I have in anyway encouraged you and helped you come to know Christ more, love Christ more, and live for Christ more, then it has all been worth it!
Thank you for letting me be a part of your story. I love you all and can’t wait to see what comes next.