This Wednesday, at the annual national-level General Assembly meeting of the Church of God, we ratified our new General Director, Rev. Jim Lyon. He will take up the reins of leadership in this movement upon the retirement of Rev. Dr. Ron Duncan later this summer. For various reasons, I have wavered back and forth in my support of this nomination, but in the past few weeks I have come to see the value and importance of Rev. Lyon’s appointment to this post, at this particular time in our movement’s history.
I’d like to share with you one of the most important pieces of my growing sense of support for Rev. Lyon. This begins with a concern that many people in the movement have: the Church of God needs a singular identity, something around which to rally ourselves, a message to proclaim to the broader church and to the world. (If you participated in the Revelation Bible study on Sunday nights last year, you may remember that this question came up frequently. That’s because the identity the Church of God had 100 years ago – related to a specific interpretation of Revelation – is no longer accepted broadly today. However, nothing that strong has risen up in its place in the past few decades.)
After his ratification, Rev. Lyon spoke to the General Assembly for a good half hour. During this talk, he reminded us that he does not come to this position with an agenda, a crystal-clear vision, or a list of programs to implement. Instead, he comes with a singular conviction. As he talked about this conviction, I realized he had written about this in his public responses to questions earlier this year:
To move forward, the unity of our own church family must be cemented. There are factions, subsets, splinters, and tribes within the Movement, all held loosely together but sometimes moving in different directions. All of us need to embrace the truth that Jesus is the subject. The church is not the subject.
When we are in right relationship to Jesus, the church will be fine. If we are not in right relationship to Jesus, no program, doctrine, distinctive, or emphasis in the church will be healthy. Who Jesus is. What Jesus thinks. What Jesus cares about. What Jesus died for. What Jesus calls us to do. How Jesus loves. How Jesus forgives. How Jesus walked and would have us walk. This is the stuff of unity. Focusing along these lines is our only hope to realize our Heaven-sent destiny as a Movement.
The Church of God, perhaps more than any other part of the larger Christian family, is hinged on relationships, grounded in the Word. We must nurture relationships with each other, tethered by this truth: Jesus is the subject. Supremely. When we obey Him, we love Him. When we see Him, we see the Father. When we follow Him, we find life.
My first object will be to bring Jesus into view, to focus, insofar as I am able, the church on its Lord.
Friends, this is good stuff. I can rally around this core conviction. It may not be a full vision for the Church of God, but that’s ok – it’s a wonderful starting point. It’s something that can spark our movement’s quest for identity and purpose. I look forward to thinking and moving with you and with Rev. Lyon in the days ahead as we reflect on the impact of this truth: Jesus is the subject.