This is the last “Just a Thought” that I will be writing as the pastor of Community Fellowship Church in West Chicago where I have been for the last nine years. We will officially finish our ministry here on Sunday (Aug) at what I am calling “a transition service.” I will literally pass the baton to a very capable Will Pavone who will shepherd this wonderful flock of God’s people at CF. Then, Gloria and I will venture into a future partly known to us but fully known to God.
The last several weeks have been filled with parties, opportunities for hugs and good-byes, and hearing the loving affirmations usually reserved for funerals. Speaking of funerals, I am reminded of Paul as he rehearsed the amazing things that God had done through him and spoke about the uncertain future he faced as a prisoner of Nero in Rome. However, there was one thing of which he was certain. His ultimate concern was that he would “eagerly expect and hope…that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:20, 21). Paul’s ultimate concern was not glorying in his past adventures or looking ahead to his next ministry assignment or even his health or survival, but in the cause of Christ and his glory.
Professional sports, even college-level athletics, have become something so completely different than what we experienced as kids. In sand-lot and high school football we played for each other, for the team, and for the sheer enjoyment of the game. Today, high-powered athletes who earn their living off the game play for themselves and a better contract. If they don’t like the coach or the team, they ask to be traded. If a coach were ever to confront such a player and say, “it’s not about you; it’s about the team,” it would be laughable as well as hypocritical. However, for Paul, it really wasn’t about him or his survival, health, or happiness. For Paul, everything was about Jesus and his reputation in this world.
And so as Gloria and I face the future, the Lord has impressed these things upon me. This is not about us, but about the team, the sheer enjoyment of the game, and most of all the Coach. It is not about what we have done, or about our image, or about our physical or financial well-being, or about our careers or future opportunities. Our ultimate concern must be with that which is certain to be victorious (the gospel), and with Jesus Christ who is certain to be exalted above all things.
As for the future…the Coach will take care of us.