Ever think about your legacy? Whether due to death or simply walking out of a room, what do you leave behind?
I’m fascinated by the legacy of Jesus.
BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, take a second and answer this question yourself, or better yet, ask a bunch of friends: WHAT IS THE LEGACY OF CHRIST?
A man who lived long, saw much, and served well said this: “It is surely a fact of inexhaustible significance that what our Lord left behind Him was not a book, nor a creed, nor a system of thought, nor a rule of life, but a visible community,” (Lesslie Newbigin). I believe we learn the most about someone when we have opportunity to examine what they’ve left behind. Their priorities, their values, their life’s work (intentional or unintentional) come into sharp focus under the lens of posterity. When Jesus was taken up…the visible community was left behind.
It sometimes scares me to see so many of us building legacies that seem to have so little to do with what mattered most to Christ. I survey the evangelical landscape and I see legacies of…individual devotion…clearly articulated doctrine…carefully cultivated supporters…homogenous, amicable groupings of affinity…narrowly defined, viciously defended politics…masterfully maintained lives of outward excellence…and boxes, boxes, boxes, boxes, oh so many boxes.
Followers of Christ are Christian by default of their beliefs and united by the work Holy Spirit. But we become a visible community only through the concerted, sacrificial, corporate act of love-in-presence. This results in being visible to each other, active in our lives, together forming healthy rhythms of life-as-worship. And this also results in being visible to all the rest–proving to those far away and closest to us that God exists by virtue of our very existence. Imagine a world where even the skeptics were forced to admit, “I may not buy into their beliefs, but if God was real, then those who followed God would probably look a like them.”
What will this take? What adjustments will you as an individual have to make in order to reveal the visible community? As a family? As a local gathering? As a church? What do you hold in tightly clenched fists that should be dropped, or at least lowered? Who have we been holding at arms length that should be embraced?
We are what was left behind. We are the legacy of Christ. I long for more. And so do many of you.