Last weekend, a hero of mine announced he would be retiring in a year. I can still remember the first time I heard Bill Hybels speak at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. He stood before a room of leaders and in a voice trembling with emotion, said very simply, “The local church is the hope of the world.” His words pierced my heart, I knew he was right and I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. From the beginning, my love for the local church has been paired with a desire to bring hope to our world.
Today I’m more convinced than ever that Bill Hybels was right. Of course, a lot of my confidence comes from the realization that he was paraphrasing Jesus who was the first to tell an ordinary group of people that they were “the light of the world” in His Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:14) And the rest comes from fifteen years of pastoral ministry and an increasing awareness of how desperate our world is for hope.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of preaching for my friend Will McGee at Crossroads Christian Church in Brooklyn. On Saturday evening, I took the subway from Bay Ridge to Midtown Manhattan to grab dinner with Will. And the whole way there, I kept hearing Hybels’ voice in my head, “the local church is the hope of the world.” I kept thinking about the incredible opportunity for the gospel that exists in the great global cities of our world. I was thanking God that I get to pastor a church in one of those cities. I was reminded that all the challenges of urban life are worth it. And I was reminded of why I do all of this. The local church really is the hope of the world.
I hope that’s how you see yourself today. Not because you’re awesome or better than anyone but because God’s Spirit lives in you. You carry the hope the world is looking for inside of you. God makes His appeal through you. He shines His light through you. You are an ambassador of the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. He sits on the throne of glory and His Kingdom will have no end. Great global cities may come and go but Jesus will never change, never leave you, never fail you, never forsake you.
You’re the hope of the world. Of your office. Of your neighborhood. Of your family. Be the church. Show grace. Embrace mercy. Be quick to forgive. Be generous with your time, your wisdom and your resources. Sacrifice for the good of others.
You’re the hope of the world. In Brooklyn. In DC. In your city.