I was very sad to see the Jimmy Carter has decided to leave his home church over theological differences. He had been a faithful member for many years. As a matter of fact, his home church had become known as Jimmy Carter's church. He taught Sunday School there for years and several folks visit the church just to see him when thy are in the Atlanta area.
"We had 12,739 visitors last year," says Dan Ariail, former pastor of the 131-member Maranatha Baptist Church where Carter was its most famous member. "We're a small church with a worldwide outreach," said Ariail. He is, of course, referring to the global draw of his most famous yet eminently accessible member, former President Jimmy Carter. Despite a grueling travel and work schedule, Carter somehow managed to teach Sunday school at the small country church 35 to 40 weeks out of the year.
Most people never even knew the name of the church. That's what happens when a congregation has a member who is well known in the community. Do you know the name of the church Rick Warren serves. Can you name the congregation served by T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers? Congratulations if you knew one of them.
This doesn't just happen to big celebrities. Having served my congregation in Norwich for many years, I often hear people call the congregation I serve, "Cal's Church." I try to correct them by saying, "It's really Jesus' church but he let's me play there."
I only bring this up to note that if you faithfully serve in one place for a while people will notice you and begin to identify you with your place of service or what you do. It happens in every walk of life. What comes to mind when you hear "Got to make the donuts." or "Don't squeeze the Charmin." When you think of the New York Yankees you think of Derek Jeter if you are a current fan or Mickey Mantle if you are a little older. If you are a Boston Red Sox you think of Youkelis or Pedroia today or a few years ago you might have named Jim Rice, Yaz or Dwight Evans.
I think of it as an honor to be so closely connected to something that I have become synonymous with it. The truth is that all of us are called to walk so closely with Christ that we would become identified with him. We are called to be disciples. Did you know that the name Christian was originally meant to be a derogatory term for the followers of Christ. It mean little Christs. It was an insult. Yet today it is the highest form of compliment because it is reserved for those who are most Christ like.
Paul says that we are called to be ambassadors for Christ. That means we are sent out to serve and honor him. We are sent to build relationships and bring peace to his enemies. I can't think of any better calling in the world. Thank you Lord for having so much faith in us to carry out this calling. I pray a lot of us will be so successful that we will be linked with you in the minds of the people we meet along the way and it brings you honor and glory.