Today is my last day at the pulpit in Mimbres and I am sad that I am going and that I am going so far away that it will be impossible for me to get back even occasionally. I think that they do it that way to prevent congregations from marginalizing the new pastor’s when they come in. Whatever the reason when they move us, they tend to make it far away from our previous appointment rather than right around the corner. This usually causes some anxiety in the church as they get ready for a new pastor and the passing of the baton. More so here because the cabinet has been unable to find a replacement for Mimbres. I know that some of you are worried about this and others are just going to go to Silver City. If that is your decision, then I have great news for you. Jared is a fantastic pastor, he’s young with a family and I don’t believe that you will be disappointed. For those of you who decide to stay the course here, Eddie is awaiting a response from a potential candidate. Regardless Rev. Dr. Brad Reeves will continue to provide CLM’s and lay speaker’s so that Mimbres can remain open. However, before you decide either way please pray about it. Mimbres is an awesome church and you are a great community and I would hate to see the church dissolved. I did not just pick this week’s scripture at random. It does follow the lectionary, but I could not have picked a more relevant passage. Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore, the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. As we are justified by faith in Christ. I want you to put this in context with what’s happening today in the church, here in Mimbres as well as the rest of North America.
For the last 400 years the church has had a formula for evangelizing and discipleship making that worked very well indeed. In the beginning it was just about mandatory that your family went to church. It did not really require a whole lot of work from the average pastor and there was some truth to the old saw about preachers only working one day a week. As times changed the roles and expectations of the pastors and their congregations evolved. Ministry became more than a Sunday sermon. Still throughout that time the method of delivery was essentially the same and the goals of both the congregation and the church were in harmony. That gradually changed as society’s values changed over the last century and church became a social club providing an approved means of socialization for the youth and a form of networking for adults. Until the 60’s and then the new family dynamics did not put as much stock in God as their parents did and with the coming of the information age and the internet the church was soon struggling for relevance in a new age. You’re probably going great, thanks for the history lesson but we know all that so what does it mean today, right now, for this church and what does Galatians have to do with it. I’m glad you asked. Historically during this period Israel was under Mosaic law some 600 plus laws for everything under the sun and the Pharisee and Sadducee were constantly arguing about which laws were relevant and which ones could be followed some of the times and which laws were unbreakable and so on. So many laws that it was impossible for anyone to actually keep them all. Hence the arguing. Each Rabboni or “teacher” had their own ranking of which laws could and could not safely be ignored. That stands as true today as it did yesterday. However, we forget that one of the greatest things that Jesus did for us was to sacrifice himself for us. He paid the price (under the law) that we could never pay while we were still under the law. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. And, still we just don’t get it. You see we have decided that only parts of our church are relevant today instead of all of it. We choose what to obey and when. Even though we are no longer under the law because it has been fulfilled the laws are still relevant. Jesus told us he was not here to change the law. Instead He enhanced them and called us to be transformed through our faith in Him as the Messiah. It is through our faith in Jesus that we are empowered. It is our faith that transforms us, and it is that faith that makes us children in God. It is not who we are or who we think others should be. These things do not mean anything to God. It is our faith that makes us who we are, it is our faith in Christ that defines us. Not our position, race, sex, age or nationality.
As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. I cannot stress this enough or repeat it enough times. You are the heirs to the universe. This life is just a screening process if you will. It prepares us for greater things to come. We are transformed for service through our faith in Jesus. When we clothe ourselves in Christ, we are putting on the mind of Christ and through that transformation we become a child of God. I’m preaching this today because it is relevant to you here at Mimbres. You are not defined by your pastor. I am not the person that makes this church what it is. The DS does not make Mimbres a church. It is you the people that make this a church. As Christ explained to His disciples, wherever two or three are gathered in my name then their will I be found. Everyone wants to get bigger and have more of the things that we see in other churches, more youth ministry and more young adults. We want more money and a bigger building so we can get more people. We want a big praise band and a smooth-talking preacher. We want the things of this world and we forget everything that Jesus taught us. This is a war of the spirits and powers of the dark. Mimbres don’t forget that the church was started with just twelve guys and not the brightest twelve guys either. These guys were in constant competition for status within the group and the whole time they were asking Jesus individually if they would be higher than their brethren and they were at odds with Jesus about His ministry because they kept their mind focused on the here and now. They were focused on this life and the physical things that they could accomplish with Jesus leading them. This congregation is focused here and now on what the conference can do for you, what the pastor can do for you. You are not looking up and around because you want what everyone else wants. You are relying on the things of this world to make your ministry successful and it won’t be unless you put your faith in Jesus Christ. We all want the same things that the disciples wanted, to be successful and to have a successful ministry in this life and I cannot fault you for that any more than I can fault myself for wanting the same thing and not being able to provide it for you. That is truly the one and only regret that I have as I leave here. I feel that I have not done enough to grow this ministry. That there was something that I missed. I suppose every pastor feels that way when they leave. Because we are never content at least not until every knee has bent and every head bowed, and every tongue proclaimed His glory and until that time the church will have to evolve again.
We will have to decide who we as children of God are going to put our faith in. The princes of this earth or the King of all Kings. Amen! The decision is yours. It’s not one that I can make for you and neither can the conference. You will need to determine where your best interests lie as a congregation. Your attendance is up and so is tithing. You are getting new blood into the church and you have the opportunity to continue to grow using the gifts that the Holy Spirit has provided for each of you as well as the generosity of First Deming in supply the pulpit for free. You have an opportunity to consolidate and grow your congregation. Not many churches can provide a different point of view on the scripture every week. They usually have to outwait the pastor to get fresh material. Like I said it’s up to you. This can be an opportunity to put your faith in Christ or it can be an excuse to give up and let the enemy claim another temporary victory. I leave you with this scripture as my final words to you from:
[2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)] I say to you Mimbres: Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Amen!