Recently one of my pastor friends came for a visit, and the church where he pastors is beginning a capital campaign in order to build a church building on newly purchased land. They have rented space for years and are now beginning to finalize plans for a permanent building of their own. We at Smyrna Presbyterian thankfully do not have to do that with the land and building that we have. However, that does not mean that we are not building. Every church is called to continue building – not physically of course – but definitely spiritually. We are never to rest on accomplishments of the past, or even our present-day laurels. We need to continue to build as a congregation into a spiritually mature congregation that worships well, makes disciples, and makes the wonders of Christ Jesus known. In this way our work is never down because that work will not be accomplished until the Lord comes back again. In that way we need to continue to build.

The Apostle Paul had this outlook and perspective when he wrote in Philippians 3, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way” (vss.14,15). The idea of “pressing on” has the imagery of a runner that continues to push himself because he has more race to run. Not stopping or slowing down, but in a sense doubling down so as to finish the race stronger than when he began. This is Paul’s perspective on his call, and surely on the Christian life as a whole. Paul s did not have a wrong view of salvation. He knew that his righteousness did not come by how hard he worked but by faith in Jesus Christ alone (see his earlier verses in that same chapter – vss. 8,9), yet his confidence in Christ, did not stop him from wanting to be more like Christ, and stronger in his faith and practice. Indeed, this ought to be the desire in every Christian.  

Recently the elders and deacons of the church held a meeting at our home. We began by talking about the blessings that the Lord has been gracious to bestow upon our church over the last year or so. It did not take us long to fill up a whole sheet of paper, and I’m sure if we gave it more time we could have filled up the backside too. The Lord has been extremely gracious to us and it is a sweet time at Smyrna Pres. In the light of these blessings it might be human nature to ease up. But the exhortation from Philippians 3 would be just the opposite - this is the time to “double down” and “press on.” Obviously not in greater ministry programs or a building campaign, but in spiritual maturity and growth in grace. How can we do what the Lord has called us to do, and do it even better and more effectively? How can each one of us be more like Christ – stronger and more mature followers of His?

To that end, the leadership of the church has crafted a purpose statement:

                        Smyrna Presbyterian Church gathers together to:

Know and worship the Triune God

Grow in the covenant family of God as reformed disciples

Show forth the love of Christ as servants and witnesses

For the Glory of God.

This statement came out of the basic question - what would God have us to do as a church? This statement is not the end-all-be-all to that question, but it is a very good starting point that gets us to think about what he has called us to both individually and corporately as a church. It revolves around the 3 main principles of KNOW – GROW – SHOW. Not only are these principles highly memorable, they are deeply biblical in regard to Christian duty that lays out a progression and pressing forward no matter the age or spiritual maturity.

In the future, I hope to take each of these principles individually and further explain and develop them. But as we close, take some time to reread the purpose statement and examine your own life in the light of it. How are these principles manifested in your own personal walk? How are they developed and fostered in the church? How am I using the means and resources that God has given me through the church to know Christ? Grow in Christ? Show forth the love of Christ?

We may not be physically building, but Lord willing, there is great construction going on in our hearts and lives – to that end “press on.”