Next week we will discuss "X" and "Y". Today, let's talk about "Z", or the end result. Everyone and everything has a "Z". "Z" can best be described as our greatest want.
The world is full of needs and wants. I used to think what we need is greater than what we want. I realize this couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, needs are picked by what we want. Let me give you an example. Jane wants to live. The want is the prime point. For Jane to live she needs to eat, find shelter, and stay healthy. See? The want figures out what the needs are. Let's do it again. John wants to play in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. For John to have a chair in the orchestra he needs to purchase an instrument, learn to play it perfectly, audition, and have those doing the audition feel he is better than everyone else who auditioned.
We all have lesser and greater wants. Our greatest want is what drives all of our decisions. I think if many were to name what the most common greatest want is, many would name the desire to live. I don't know if that is really the case. I would say there is a struggle between wanting to live, and wanting to be comfortable or happy. When these two (life and happiness) are sold as a package, it can motivate people to do horrendous things. People will sacrifice the life and happiness of others, to maintain their own.
This is where I want to seriously look at scripture:
9 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
John 15:9-14 CEB
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 25 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. 26 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? 27 For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done. 28 I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom.”
Matthew 16:24-28 CEB
Before I get into how this works within a church or organization, let me suggest something radical that Jesus was the founder of:
Jesus wanted us to make God, in the form of Jesus, as our greatest want. If we understand the two texts under the idea of wants and needs, "saying no to themselves" would be replacing our greatest want, with Jesus. This completely alters why and how we do things. Instead of doing something for happiness, we are doing it to keep the Body of Christ healthy and happy. The outcome, when the Body is functioning correctly is health and happiness.
Now it should be obvious that the great want a church should always have is Christ.
Z is our greatest want. X and Y are the needs to get what we want. Now here's where things get complicated. We could all agree a church exists to make Z equal Christ. We could also probably agree that all the congregants are there for the same purpose.
Here is the hard to hear truth.
Not every person is in church for Christ. People go to church for all different reasons. Perhaps they want to get their children in something they feel would be safe. Perhaps they go because it is what they have always done. Perhaps the church is offering something the person can only get if they are a member. Maybe being a congregant is advantageous to the person in some way. For example, a politician might gain poll points for being an active member at a church. Some politicians go to church for the polls, not for Christ. No matter what the reason, their Z is different than Christ.
Those people will (mostly unknowingly) try to replace Z with their greatest need. This will derail the healthy transformative process, and break the church. Always. If you are in a broken church it is your job to discover that new Z, why it happened, when it happened, and put the church back on the correct path again.
This is what I want you to do this week:
Discover if your faith institution has Christ as their greatest want.
Try to name your own greatest want. Is it Christ?