As most of you are aware, this past May I accepted the call to serve as pastor at First Baptist Church in Albany, Louisiana. Not only was it an opportunity to serve a caring and loving body of believers, it was a chance to return to the area where I grew up – southeast Louisiana. Ronda and I have been blessed to serve in churches across the south and have the privilege of getting to know and serve beside countless saints. While being given the chance to serve His kingdom anywhere is a blessing, for me, there is just nowhere like Louisiana. The culture, the food, the people and yes, the oppressive humidity all make this a special place. That being said, Louisiana is NOT my home.
The Bible reminds us that, as Christians, we are no longer citizens of this world, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). We are strangers and exiles in this world (1Pet 2:11). We are stationed here for a brief period and then we move on to where we will spend eternity. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he tells the young pastor to, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” And reminds him, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the commanding officer.” (2Tim 2:3-4). In other words, stay focused on your mission and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by things that, in the end, won’t matter.
Those who have been stationed overseas, particularly in combat situations understand this well. While they are quartered in a foreign land, it is not their home. While, they try to make themselves as comfortable as possible, their primary focus is on completing their mission and they count the days until they can return home.
It seems to me that many of us in the church are focused primarily on a temporal citizenship. We are definitely spending too much time getting entangled in things that won’t matter. This world is filled with things that distract us from our mission. Many of the things we are most passionate about – sports, politics, entertainment, recreation and countless others will, in the end, simply not matter. It is not that any of these activities are inherently evil, but when they supplant Christ and His mission in our hearts they become idols.
I love being back in Louisiana and while it is my prayer that God will allow us many years here – it is not my home. We are privileged to be serving in this special place, but our citizenship is elsewhere. However, while we’re here we’ll be focused on His mission – and maybe I’ll get a little étouffée.