Museum or Mission

While there are many great hymns of the faith, this is perhaps one of the greatest. The words are piercing and compelling. You can’t really sing this without realizing a tear; it is too moving. Read the words; listen to them sung by this choir. The Belfast Cathedral Youth Choir rendition is a beautiful performance.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight; Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always: Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Soak it in – all in. As you’re viewing the video, contemplate this thought. The Cathedral is beautiful and certainly a historical landmark among the structures of Belfast. The structure is rich in heritage. It speaks of a day past unrecognized in its current post-Christian culture. The prominent stately cathedral speaks of a commitment and conviction to the faith.

While churches still influence their communities to some degree, they’ve lost the influence of generations past. I believe our culture is following a similar path of declining influence. Our churches, what’s left of them, will resemble museums filled with relics of the faith rather than mission outposts. What’s the difference between a museum and a mission? A museum is a safe place for the past while a mission is strategically positioned to take new territory. Sometimes a pessimistic or prophetic thought captivates my mind. Is the American church becoming more of a museum than a mission?

I ran across this paragraph in a recent read and it has really stuck with me. Paul Nixon states, “As a group, we mainline pastors tend more to being caretakers and managers of the status quo than to being apostles. We are often driven by the motivation to help others – but we seldom believe we have something that can save others. And if we did once believe that, chances are we’ve allowed our seminary training, our ministry peers, our denominational bosses, and the big chieftains in the churches we serve to cure us of that viewpoint. Most of us gave up trying to save the world years ago. This giving up goes to the heart of the malaise that now pervades our churches.”[1]

Have we given up to the status quo? Have our leaders ceased trying to save the world? Have we forgotten about this entrustment of a Gospel that can save? If God is our vision, shouldn’t His commission be our goal?

“Oh, God, my Lord, Savior, Sustainer, Provider, and Strength, I do not want to give up trying to save the world. Do not allow the malaise of men to eclipse the vision. Be Thou my Vision. Amen.”

[1] Paul Nixon, I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church, (The Pilgrims Press: Cleveland, 2006), 16.