We said goodbye to CrossBridge Church today. Our fellowship, our localized little outpost of the kingdom of Jesus, had to bid farewell. No egregious sins or animosity or financial mishandling, just the sad, simple reality of the season having ended for our ability to continue on as a public church.
Paul, the lead planter/elder/pastor, preached the Word of God in Ephesians 5:25-27 to us. In verse 25, another Paul, one from 20 centuries ago, tells us this:
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
He gave Himself up for her.
Let that work its way down to your heart.
Creation has a purpose, guys. Life and love, stars and surprises, it’s all pointing to something. There’s a reason for the world. This whole universe, and the backdrop of angels and Heaven and Hell just behind it, is all for the unfathomably beautiful glory of God in Jesus Christ. Every windswept mountain peak, every sunbeam and water molecule and human soul, will ultimately play its part in a story about Jesus’ justice, judgment, mercy, and glory. And the pivotal piece in that story is His giving of Himself to rescue the church, His Father-chosen people.
See, they deserved to be put down, because like everyone else they were evildoers and traitors and rebels. These people were owed nothing but wrath, while Jesus was owed honor and joy and His Father’s Kingdom. But He authored the most surprising exchange in history by taking their awful place that they might share in His.
The glory of God in Jesus, the point of all creation, shines out from the Cross of Jesus Christ, where He died for His church that she might be safe, she and all her members.
Those of us who were a part of CrossBridge, either members of her or simply faithfully in her midst each week, were not merely a part of a club. We were standing with, and some of us proclaiming to be a part of, the bride that Jesus adores and will take to Heaven with Him.
I want to let myself be sad about her end, but in the right way. In the way where I actually understand what I’m sad about.
And that’s good, because the thing about Christian sadness is that it always has hope buried deep in it, hope that’ll work its way through like leaven works its way through a lump of dough. Christian sadness can’t despair, because it knows that the Jesus who will make all things right is coming again. I want to have the Christian kind of sadness.
We said goodbye to a local church today. But the only reason that we had a little church to say goodbye to is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cherished the people He’d been given by the Father so much that He did not spare Himself in the plan for their rescue and forgiveness. Jesus Christ is ransoming a people for Himself, and CrossBridge was one tiny piece of that bigger story.
Jesus is the point. His Gospel is part of the glory and the fame He is due. Jesus is indescribably good, and He invites all to come and be safe and forgiven through His blood. His ever-growing church is a proof of the depth of His grace.
I needed to be reminded on this sad day of the point of it all. Jesus’ grace and love and holiness and judgment are going to be seen as beautiful and glorious by even His enemies in the end, and His unsearchable love for His church is going to highlight them. Jesus is the point.
I needed that.
And so I’m thankful to both Pauls.