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Faith: Our vision is steered by our purpose

Thursday, Aug. 23, marked the three-month anniversary of the fire that destroyed our church building. So much has changed, yet so little has changed. Lord willing the building will be demolished within the next two weeks, but then what?

Many children witnessed the aftermath of the fire on their daily journey to and from school. For most, these memories have been clouded out by the activities of summer.

On Sept. 4, they will once again climb aboard their "cheese wagons" as they return to classes at Pine River-Backus School. And as they turn off of Highway 371 onto Cass County Road 42, they will pass an empty lot with a large sandbox.

Now what?

The journey forward has many twists and turns, hills and valleys, dead ends and detours. Recently a small group of believers gathered to prayer-walk a number of key locations around our community. We visited the school, our city hall and other areas where people gather.

But we began at the church property. A key from the former building was buried as a memorial and then we walked around the property.

Unbeknown to the rest of the gathering, I stopped and pondered at a strategic location. I stood behind our new pulpit and looked over those in attendance at the dedication of our new building. I don't mean to overplay this, but I do need others to know - I've seen the new building, in my mind and deep within my soul.

Many details remain to be worked out - the final floor plan, fixtures and colors. But more important than all of these is the future ministry to the young and the old, the strong and the struggling, with the life-changing message of salvation in Jesus Christ. The building provides the venue, but the vision is steered by our purpose.

Recently I chose to watch several YouTube videos of Ravi Zacharias. Dr. Zacharias is an Indian-born Canadian-American Christian apologist. In one of these recordings he was asked whether particular religious sect was a cult. I would summarize his response in this manner.

Any religious doctrine that moves beyond the exclusivity and sufficiency of Jesus Christ is cult-like. In other words, he was more concerned that we come to understand the pathway to error than to spend our time condoning or condemning specific groups.

What is meant by the exclusivity of Jesus Christ? In Colossians 1:15-23 the Apostle Paul notes, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." In John 14:9 Jesus answered Philip, "... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."

Jesus is exclusive because He is the only begotten Son of God. He is the "firstborn of all creation."

This phrase has given wind to a great controversy. How can Jesus be the firstborn of creation unless He was indeed created? The answer lies in the context of Jewish thought. Jesus is the firstborn in that He is the rightful heir of all things. Verses 16-17 further defend this understanding.

In verse 18 we find that He is the Head of the Church. Numerous passages compare the relationship between Jesus and the church as that of a groom to his bride. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. (1 Peter 5:4)

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians he writes, "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ." (Eph. 4:15)

Jesus alone is Lord, and He deserves complete and exclusive obedience.