Thursday, January 17, 2013

Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten

A lot was said about legacy in 2012. Especially, the Olympic Legacy. A call to inspire a generation. Time will tell whether more athletes follow, health improves and the Olympic park stands tall. Given every football tournament failure leads for an overhaul of youth development it's easy to be a bit cynical. People chase celebrity, fifteen minutes of fame...

Equally, there are people who have lasting legacy and impact on our lives...

What about the Christian? What's our legacy? What's the right legacy for a CU leader to pursue from their year of serving the CU? I saw this yesterdya:
Ironically, Zinzendorf is well remembered. I think the actual quote from Count Nicholas Zinzendorf - the original 24/7 prayer leader... missionary movement leader... influential in the lives of the Wesley's:
 "The missionary... must be content to suffer, to die and be forgotten."    ---John Wesley, Journal (London: Robert Culley, n.d.), Vol. II, p. 11.)
Which given a missionary is a gospel preacher is basically the same thing. The Christian should be content to suffer, die and be forgotten.

It's Ecclesiastes 1, we're quickly forgotten. The student work has a blissfully short memory. It's common for a CU to say "This is the biggest thing our CU has ever done..." -- and it kind of is, except that that happened four years ago but no-one is left to remember. Which is fine! Student workers don't tend to stay in the work for long - I met another 12-year student worker yesterday which is rare.

We seek to impact lives, we impact structures and strategy, and for a while our fingerprints are identifiable... Some things do last though few movements and churches thrive for multiple generations.Before long there's no one there anymore who knows how things were before. Our hard labours become just smudges on the window... unseen foundations.

The short memory is liberating.

There are no monuments and landmarks and celebrities in the new creation, and there ought not to be such here. Yet we're (read, I'm) easily starstruck. There are big fish in our small pond over whom we fawn, whose words we re-tweet and podcast.

I've seen students go wobbly kneed at a CU weekend away (where I was speaking) when they heard that a certain speaker had been there with another CU the previous weekend... Take off your shoes, this is holy ground.. ?!

Real gospel legacy is Christ's life-giving reign over all things...
I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever. (Psalm 45:17 ESV)
A verse about me? No, the Father says this of the Son. And I share in his life by my union with him. His name is remembered, and he remembers me.

Real legacy is the fruit of the gospel in people - people who become followers of Christ, people who grow as disciples of Christ. The legacy of ministry I did 12 years ago is sat in an office and a school and a mums and toddler group this morning.

Legacy is the teenager who becomes a Christian and is still sharing the gospel with people when he's 82 years old.  Real legacy is the student who becomes a Christian, marries a Christian, works as a Christian in a job, raises their kids in the sound of the gospel and a gospel adorning family home, whose kids grow up in the faith. And many other untold stories.

And then we're forgotten.


  1. I'm a SU and UCCF legacy from many years ago. God is good and his love just keeps on. Thank you for your work helping another generation. And another. And ...

    1. Liz - that's wonderful to hear. Love to hear more of how the story has gone for you.

  2. Thanks. I really needed to hear this today, especially.