1 Kings 9:1-5
After Solomon finished building the Temple, the king’s palace, and all he desired to create, the Lord appears to him a second time in a dream. Solomon thinks his work is done; the Lord states otherwise.
God promises faithfulness in response to Solomon’s prayer. The divine presence will be known in the Temple for all time (though not only in the Temple). Then, God reminds Solomon about his commitment to be faithful, saying, “If you will walk before me . . . with integrity of heart and uprightness . . . and keeping my statutes and ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever” (v. 4). The Lord will establish Solomon’s legacy not through these buildings that will stand for generations, but through his faithfulness. The integrity of his heart, manifested in how justly he governs his people, will establish his legacy.
Buildings, bylaws, and bureaucracies help churches, schools, colleges, institutions, and governments thrive over generations to some extent. They are not, however, their legacy. A church in my city was once a thriving congregation, but when its neighborhood changed, its parishioners moved to different parts of town. They still commuted to church on Sundays, but as they aged their children’s families attended different churches. In time they were down to a couple dozen members. Then they decided to open their doors to community ministries all around them. Soon, a multi-cultural group of people asked if the church would accept them. A decade later it is an eclectic, diverse, thriving congregation.
For a long time, they had taken care of a building and almost died. They found their legacy when they faithfully ministered to people who had long been their neighbors.
What is your church’s legacy? What is yours?
God, give me the faith this day to grasp what is truly important, to see what can be and not only what is, and to recognize strangers as future friends. Amen.