I’ve been thinking about Revelation 1:10 lately and how it relates to CrossHope Chapel. I probably need to mention that with this pandemic I’ve been thinking a lot about CrossHope Chapel, where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re heading.
This coming January 2, 2021 when we gather we’ll be celebrating our 10th consecutive year of fellowship as a body of Christ, known as CrossHope Chapel.
It has been a very rewarding pastoral ministry experience, to me. Not rewarding by the standards of today’s American church culture, but to me. We haven’t set any records in these ten years that would grab the attention of any church growth gurus or cause any church newspapers to write about us.
We haven’t set out to erect any buildings to give us any kind of assurance that the next generation will follow through our doorway. We haven’t even amassed a bank account to convince us to finance the latest and greatest outreach programs or flashy productions. We haven’t done anything to sway any accolades of my ministerial friends or the admiration of my family.
Then again, we haven’t made CrossHope Chapel about growing a crowd, but rather growing a soul closer to their Lord.
Jesus Among Us
I’ve been finding a lot of encouragement lately from the second half of Revelation 1:10. The context is the Apostle John banished on the Isle of Patmos for being a follower of the Risen Lord, and here he says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” then he reports in the second half of the verse “and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”
Here is what I find so encouraging, without giving a verse by verse study, allow me to summarize why this verse encourages me: John, is not looking at Jesus, then he hears a voice, turns around and he sees the Risen Lord among the seven churches holding the leaders of those churches in His hand.
Jesus, in Revelation, after the resurrection, is among the churches. Jesus was there with the churches — Ephesus, the passionless church (Revelation 2:1-7); Smyrna, the persecuted church (Revelation 2:8-11); Pergamon, the tolerant church (Revelation 2:12-17); Thyatira, the compromising church (Revelation 2:18-29); Sardis, the dead church (Revelation 3:1-6); Philadelphia, the missionary church (Revelation 3:7-13); Laodicea, the arrogant church (Revelation 3:14-22) — Jesus is among the churches “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
This gives me great, great, unspeakable hope, to realize, to know from God’s Word, that the Lord Jesus is among us, among CrossHope Chapel, and He has been these ten years. It means that Jesus will be among us as we go into our future years, too.
We can all take comfort in knowing that though our society appears to be on the offensive against the church, Jesus is among them, including in the California state lawsuits against Grace Community Church, the Nevada lawsuits against Calvary Chapel, the District of Columbia with Capital Hill Baptist Church, and yesterday in Idaho when Christians were arrested for violating an ordinance against singing hymns and worship songs!?!
Not only is our Lord upholding His promise of being among the church “where two or three are gathered together in my name” He is also upholding His promise of Matthew 16:18 which assures us “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The Lord’s Voice
It’s interesting to me that John heard a voice, then turned around to see Jesus among the churches. Jesus wasn’t out in the forefront of wherever John was focused. I’m still thinking on that meaning, but apparently John was simply looking in the wrong direction, as I have from time to time. Sometimes, even ministers need to hear the Lord’s voice and turn around to see Him.
I would not be completely honest with you if I said that I have never been discouraged along the way, or have never weep before the Lord, or have never questioned the value of the week to week effort. Those times haven’t lasted long, because I hear the Lord’s voice and He reminds me that I am giving these years to people, not to an edifice, not to an organization, not to a denomination, but to you.
As a young pastor I use to think, “I want to go to Heaven and know that there are a lot of people there because I did something to help them get there.” But you know what’s wrong with that? A lot of people is a nebulous concept. They are faceless. They are nameless.
Today, when I think of these years with CrossHope Chapel, I think, “I want to go to Heaven and see you, hug you, and experience eternity together, and just as we knew it would be!” You are not faceless. You are not nameless. We will realize the hope that we have shared and held as part of the body of Christ, we’ve known as CrossHope Chapel.
In my imagination, I would illustrate the difference in getting to Heaven and meeting a pastor friend who is like I once was, and me asking “Who did you bring?” I imagine him waving his hands over the landscape and saying, “Oh, people out there!” And then I imagine me saying, “Here, meet so-and-so and meet her and meet him, we were in fellowship together at CrossHope Chapel in Mobile, Alabama.”
As the new year of 2017 began, I picked the word “Steadfastness” as my word for that year. I wrote about it in my January 10, 2017 article Steadfastness, so you can read about it there.
I’m pulling that word out of the archives again now that I have had this Revelation 1:10 encouragement of our Lord and Savior among us. So as we go into our next 10 years my prayer is to remain steadfast while open to the Lord’s leading.
I am praying that we are steadfast at being a church where one can come to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
I am praying that we are steadfast at being a church where we continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
I am praying that we are steadfast at being a church where we believe our Lord’s promise that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).