The cross and the masses

Author and speaker Frank Viola once said, “I don’t think the Church has ADD -- Attention Deficit Disorder. I think the Church has JDD -- Jesus Deficit Disorder.”

We go to church. We sing songs. We hear a sermon, and we go home. Sometimes Jesus doesn’t even come up. How does that happen?

The Church has this remarkable ability to get distracted, and when we get distracted, everyone else gets distracted with us. So when the Church is distracted, not only does the Church suffer, but everyone else in our culture suffers, too.

I was on a sailboat recently, and the guy who owned the boat asked me to steer. When I told him I didn’t know how, he assured me it was easy. I grabbed this big wheel. I was scared to death. Everything was coming from a million different directions. The waves were crashing against the side of the boat. I didn’t want to do something wrong and have someone fall off. I was so distracted by everything going on around me. I looked at him and said, “Help!”

And he said, “Pete, it’s so simple. Look across the lake. You see that water tower over there? Just aim for that water tower. Don’t take your eyes off it. And if you’ll do that, the sails will fill with wind, and we’ll be in good shape.”

As I followed his advice, people would try to talk to me, the wind would change direction, and the boat would start to shift, but I’d just get it going right at that water tower again. Each time, the sails filled with wind.

It’s my contention that if we’re distracted – and I know a lot of us are – that we need to figure out what the water tower is. Don’t take our eyes off it, and let all the distractions fade away.

The question is, of course, what is the water tower? Scripture is clear that there’s only one answer.

The Apostle Paul is a hero of mine because he never got distracted. He was laser-focused on his water tower. In the second chapter of his letter to the Colossians, Paul said very clearly what was important to him.

“I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

That’s the water tower – the mystery of God. It isn’t like an Agatha Christie mystery we have to figure out and decipher. It’s something that God has known forever, that He has kept hidden for generations, but has revealed by the Spirit to the Apostle, so that He can communicate it to us.

The mystery, my friends, is Christ – His person, His work on the cross and His resurrection. But it’s more than that. The mystery is the fact that this Christ, after He ascended into Heaven, comes to anyone who will bow to Him, and by His Spirit lives in them.

Paul writes in Galatians 2:20: “For I was crucified with Christ, and now I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” The indwelling Christ is the mystery, the water tower, the neglected gem of Christian orthodoxy. We should never, ever take our eyes off it.

The sailboat is a beautiful analogy of the Christian life. When you point it at the water tower, the sails fill with wind. When you point your life, your ministry, your church at Christ, the Spirit fills your sails, and not only do you greatly benefit, but everyone around you will as well.

Pete Briscoe is the senior pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, Texas, and President of “Telling the Truth” media ministry. This article is adapted from a speech he made at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in 2013.

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