There is No “I” in Church

October 01, 2013

Tuesday Re-mix –

When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  Acts 4:24-30

Church is not about me.  It is not even about my gifts or accomplishments or contributions to the mission.  I think that is one of the things I find most attractive about it.

I found this photo from the 2005 New York Yankees’ Old-timers game at the old Yankees Stadium in the Bronx.  It’s got  Whitey Ford (16), Yogi Berra (8), Reggie Jackson (44), Don Mattingly (23), Ron Guidry (49), Rich Goose Gossage (54), Paul O’Neill (21), Scott Brossius (18), Ed Figueroa (25) and Chris Chambliss (10).  I love it because these all-time great players were still wearing traditional Yankee uniforms WITHOUT their names on the backs.

Putting players’ names on the back of their jerseys was reportedly the brainchild of White Sox owner, Bill Veeck in 1960.  I am truly sorry he had that idea.  Feel free to call me a hopeless purist, but when it comes to team sports, I am very much a “There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM” kind of guy.  I like that the Yankees don’t wear their names on their jerseys.  I like that the Dodgers have followed suit…and the Red Sox and Giants (albeit only at home).  I know it is not politically correct to say so, but I believe Joe Paterno’s Penn State football uniforms without the players’ names on them were the coolest ever, and I am sorry they have now departed from that particular piece of his team philosophy.

President Ronald Reagan had a sign on his desk that read: “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  That is an eternal truth…one which has made the church the greatest single revolution this world has ever witnessed.

It is for all these same reasons that I absolutely love the prayer referenced in Acts 4:24-30.  It is filled with power and authority and world-changing vision.  It is amazing.  It is a prayer any pastor or theologian who has ever walked this earth would be proud to have voiced or penned.  It is exactly the kind of bold witness upon which the early church was founded.  And we have no idea who actually voiced it.  I love that Dr. Luke did not include that information in his writing.  All we know is that the believers came together and prayed this prayer TOGETHER.

That concept of nobody getting the credit and everybody getting the credit is, it seems to me, the very fabric of which the  true church is made.  After all, the only activity of any real significance in the church is the activity of the Spirit.  The things I do on my own, apart from the Spirit, mean nothing.  The leadership I bring, the lessons I teach, the prayers I make…all of them have meaning only to the extent the Spirit is involved.  Moreover, church is not about my preferences…the Bible translation I prefer, the worship style I prefer, the preachers I prefer, the Bible studies I prefer.  Church does not exist for those things.  It really is not at all about me…because there is no “I” in church.

© Blake Coffee
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