I have lately been captivated by the writings of John. When the apostles were called by Jesus, John was the youngest. And at the end of his life, he was the oldest and last living apostle.
Pastor of the church of Ephesus and a father figure to many more. A man that loved God and His people through the end.
Imagine the loss felt by the church the day he died. A sadness that filled the Body of Christ.
But what happened the day after he died? Nothing that God couldn’t handle and heal. The church moved on. It didn’t crumble. It didn’t collapse. John encouraged the church to constantly move forward…but he wasn’t the driving force. The church wasn’t built on John. It was built on Jesus.
Church growth halts when Jesus is not at the center.
John may have been the youngest called and the oldest to die, but he certainly wasn’t the Alpha and Omega. Though John was loved by the Church, he wasn’t the center of the Church.
While the people looked up to John, his prime motive was to point the church to Jesus. And we see through the continued growth of the Church, he was successful. Many of us have a person-centric view of church. Fellowship and pastoring is focused on one person or select group of people. While God has given us leadership to look up to, they’re never meant to take the place of center.
Though John was loved by the Church, he wasn’t the center of the Church.
We can’t afford to center our church life/experience around any one person except the person of Jesus Christ. Church growth halts when Jesus is not at the center. That isn’t to say numbers can’t/won’t increase. But true, spiritual growth, begins to die. The mission begins to, even if ever-so-slightly, go off course. Why? Because the mission of the Church is to follow Jesus.
We look up to those God has placed over our lives to shepherd us; we weep when we lose those we look up to; but we do not mourn as those without hope, for our Chief Shepherd is Jesus Christ. We move on, for Jesus is alive, He’s reigning, and He’s on mission.