The Church today offers a buffet of options, opinions and opportunities for the modern world to enjoy. Some ministries trumpet a message of addiction recovery, marriage restoration, or wholesome family principles. Others preach a message of work ethics, careers, marketplace ministries and city involvement. Other ministries have a message of discipleship, mentoring and training. From international missions, to urban soup kitchens; from Bible colleges to worship and arts departments. The message and mission of the 21st century Church is rapidly expanding, increasingly diverse and conveniently multifaceted to meet the demands of the day in which we live. Projects and programs, classes and causes of every shape and size imaginable, all of them meeting a need and serving a purpose. Each of these in their own way are an extension of Christ to the communities we live in. 

Most all of them find their beginnings in a place of prayer and compassion, starting in close proximity the heartbeat of God. Men and woman hear the voice of God to take action in addressing various needs and issues in their cities, and are moved to launch an effort to be salt in light in various arenas. And thus, groups are formed, initiatives take shape and opportunity is seized! It's beautiful to see the Body of Christ rise to the occasion and truly be His hands and feet!

But as time passes, programs grow and churches enlarge their scope and reach; it is easy to loose touch with their Christ-centered beginnings. Many good-willed programs simmer down to be exclusively that: a program or organization with good intentions. But little-to-no connection to heart of God, or the person of Christ.

I see many believers consumed with good causes, humanitarian efforts and over-all noble objectives, but an ever-growing distance between them and Christ. If we are not careful, I believe we will deceive ourselves into thinking we are close to God, because we are busy doing good work.

It reminds me of the New Testament story of Mary and Martha. Martha was busy, working and doing good things, while Mary had decidedly placed herself close to Jesus. While Martha could think she was the one with the more ethical and principled behavior, it was Mary who Christ profiled as the wiser of the two.

Bottom line is this: a crew apart from its captain is chaos. A mission apart from its commander is a fail. And a believer apart from Christ is a pharisee.

Christ must be the engine of my life. He must remain the driving force behind the Church, and all of its programs and efforts. He must be the main attraction from the Sunday school classroom to the home group in the living room! He is all we really have to offer!

He is the epicenter of our life-mission. The axis of our emotions, the heartbeat of our soul. He is our home base and our destination. He is our anchor and our motor. He is our message.

Colossians 1:28 says, "Him we preach..."

The church is bursting at the seams with preaching, teaching and warning. Books and books, series and sermons, courses and classes. But is it Christ? Do I preach Christ? Or is it religion? Is it philosophy? Do I preach Christ, or do I preach principles? Character? Perspective?

Christ is the one who changes the human heart. Christ is the one who reverses statistics and heals a broken nation. All the teaching, preaching and warning in the world will fail for lack of Christ. Programs will loose their steam, causes will wane, small groups will dwindle and churches will turn plastic without Christ as the all-consuming focus.

If our groups, our relationships, our churches are to succeed and accomplish their purpose, we must live and breath and revolve around CHRIST.

Programs produce complainers, charities produce takers, small groups produce fakers without Christ.

Philippians 3:14 "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Our prize, our call is IN Christ Jesus. Apart from Him, we have no call, no destiny. He is our aim. Whether we are called to the marketplace, to politics, to ministry or to missions. Our call is high, it is great, and it is only found in the person of Jesus. 

Acts 17:28 "in Him we live and move and have our being..." In Him we succeed. In Him our groups, churches and ministries become effective. His cause triumphs. His objectives are accomplished. His message prevails.

Don't search for your destiny in ministry or in politics, in writing or in pastoring. Search for it in Christ. All facets and programs and departments of the church, all vocations and careers and chapters of life, all callings and congregations and efforts of faith will bear lasting fruit, when their message is Christ.

What is your life proclaiming? What is your message?