By: Chris Routen, Eugene Site Pastor
As he stood in front of the gallows, the American revolutionary Nathan Hale said, “My only regret is that I had but one life to give for my country.” I understand him. If I had another life to live on earth, I’d live it planting churches with Resonate Church.
As I look over our network, I am overwhelmed by the level of sacrifice. Our Sunday Gathering teams volunteer countless hours every week. God uses us to see people verbalize their decision to follow Jesus for the first time ever. God uses us to see people baptized into His family year after year.
This all works only because many have decided the local church is how Christ accomplishes his mission and they have joined in. They have given hours upon hours to see many reached through the local church. They have seen the beauty of Christ and give everything else up that others might also know.
Our gathering team has handled leadership changes, venue changes, and scheduling crises. They have bled from being scraped with pipe and drape sections, bases, and stages. They load trailers late at night, go out of their way to meet the new person, serve in the snow, serve in the rain, and serve in the sunshine. They always serve in the shadows, and that has set the stage for hundreds of people to hear the gospel this year at our gatherings. So on behalf of those people eternally changed, I want to say thank you.
Our village leaders have been thrown into the deep end. It was sink or swim. Most would sink, but they swam. They press forward with a spiritual weight that no person under their leadership knows. They assume the role of a spiritual parent at 18,19, 20 years old. They have driven around ungrateful people, sacrificed their schedules, gave away their cars, filled their personal space to the brim, used their weekends, and shared their meals. They know Jesus differently today than they did a year ago. On behalf of those people eternally changed, I want to say thank you.
Our next-up leaders have walked humbly and supported their leadership. They put their pride aside and followed. They have brought non-believers around their lives. They have prayed for multiplication and death to life stories. On behalf of those people eternally changed, I want to say thank you.
As I reflect on these things, I’m floored. These 20-somethings are rewriting the narrative of the college student.
The story of the sacrificial servant is all but lost in our generation. The one who willingly chooses to go unrecognized. The one who intentionally allows themselves to be wrung out like a rag for somebody else’s benefit. The one who seeks to elevate others at their own expense. That story is not told in this generation.
But there are a few people in small college towns across the country who gather on floors and give up their lives, who are reviving that story. I see them rewriting the narrative.
They serve, but not for extra credit from the professor. They serve, but not for scholarship from the university. They serve, but not to fulfill their community service requirements, nor for a higher GPA on their diploma. They serve to imitate the life of their Savior. “For even the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Where ever will we find the sacrificial servant on earth if not in the Body of Christ? We are the only ones with a hope beyond this earth. The only ones with a life laid up where moth and rust cannot destroy, and thieves cannot break in and steal it.
Who on earth will exhaustedly walk towards the crowds on their day off, just like Jesus, because the crowds are like sheep without a shepherd? (Mark 6:34)
Who on earth will kneel, rag in hand, right behind Jesus to wash the feet of disciples? (John 13:1-17)
Who on earth will stumble, cross on back, right behind Jesus as He carries His to the hill to be crucified? (John 19:17)
To become like Jesus, we will sacrifice like Him. Though it’s terrifyingly easy to put Jesus on the buffet table, ravenously consume his community, then leave without paying, this group hasn’t done that.
No, in our church, we lay our heads down at night completely spent. We exhaust ourselves because Jesus exhausted Himself for us. We run the race and jog if we have to, walk if we have to, and crawl if we have to, but we’ll cross the finish line completely poured out. It is the call of the Christian to have not an ounce more to give, and have to ask Jesus for more strength to make it tomorrow.
There’s a profound example of our service to the church found in the Bible. In Mark 8, Jesus reveals a mystery of marriage to us, saying “The two become one flesh”. Marriage is two people becoming one under God. Here’s what this means: when you do my wife’s dishes, you’re doing my dishes. When you compliment her, you’re complimenting me.
Paul expands on marriage in Ephesians 5:32, saying “[Marriage] is a metaphor for Christ and The Church”. The Church is the bride of Christ, made one with Christ. There’s a union between the two, so much so that when Saul is confronted on the Damascus road, Jesus doesn’t ask “Why are you persecuting my church, or my people”, he asks “Why are you persecuting Me”?
What you’ve done unto Resonate Church was done unto Christ. It is a profound truth that what you do to benefit the people of God also magnifies the Glory of God.
Here’s a vision for your life, friends:
Serve Jesus in the local church whether from stage or from shadows, for the next 70 years.
Lead or host a small group gathering, every single year from now until the year the Lord takes you home. Lead like Jesus from a place of sacrifice and never ever put down the cross, even though voices seeking your comfort may prompt you to. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the mirage of a more comfortable, less sacrificial life next year.
Take after Jesus. Give your life and every ounce of your energy, from today until you see Him face to face.