My first involvement with the denominational leadership of the Christian Reformed Church was in 1986 as a board member for the Synodical Committee on Race Relations. At the time, there was great hope that soon—very soon—we would all enjoy the fruit promised by Jesus in his command to the church to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. There was a sense at the time that all of us Christians in the CRCNA were leaning heavily into this vision. But almost 40 years later, we know that we’re not there yet—not as a church, and certainly not as a society.
As humans, we have a tendency to look toward the future. We are always striving for that next milestone: to be old enough to drive, to find that special someone to marry, to become parents or grandparents, to get that next promotion in our career. In many ways, this is good. Our vision for the future drives us to set goals and work toward them. But ambition can also cause us to lose sight of the “right now” and overlook the blessings God gives us each day.
I see this in our ministries as well. Over the years, synod has mandated that our congregations work together in a variety of areas, including disaster response, global mission, disability awareness, abuse prevention, faith formation, race relations, justice, or worship. We’ve started ministries and hired staff to address these shared mandates, and those staff are passionate and dedicated about that to which they’ve been called.
From my vantage point, I see staff giving their time, talents, sweat, and tears to their work. Many of the success stories from these efforts are shared on these pages of The Banner each month. Yet for every success, we remain painfully aware of areas where the work is not yet accomplished.
We see the great need that continues to exist in our world, and we feel frustrated that our efforts are not yet meeting them. There continue to be communities who are hungry, people who have not heard the gospel, congregations who remain inaccessible to those with disabilities, systems that perpetuate racism, and places that do not adequately prevent abuse.
I encourage us to not grow weary. Rather than merely looking toward the future and all that remains to be accomplished, let us also pay attention to the blessings happening right now.
When we consider the truth that we’re not where God wants us to be yet, let’s not forget to pause and recognize some encouraging signposts of where we are now.
We’re not there yet, but still we see new churches being planted, new leaders being engaged, and many new cultures and peoples being integrated into the denomination—and all are being mutually transformed into the likeness of Christ.
As we strive to live the kind of lives described in 1 Peter 4:8-11, using the gifts we have received as faithful stewards of God’s grace, let us look at the daily evidence around us and notice the many ways that God is already blessing our efforts. And let us give thanks for God’s faithfulness even as we pray for the work that lies ahead.