Over 10 years ago, we planted a tiny plant in our garden, slightly more than a foot tall, not knowing that one day, that tiny plant would grow into an imposing, gigantic tree that would dominate our entire garden and even the street we’re on.
It’s now grown to well over 60 feet, but it hasn’t come without a cost. The roots of the tree now spread threateningly all over the garden, absorbing much of the nutrients, and the whole area around it is just sandy. No grass seems to be able to grow, because it cannot compete. So, really, the tree has been able to rise but only at the expense of the rest of the other plants in the garden.
My point? There’s no such thing in the Kingdom of God as a self-made man. People don’t just rise from nothing. Yes, it’s true, we owe something to parentage and patronage. But it’s by asking where people come from that we’ll unravel the mystery behind who actually succeeds and who doesn’t. We’re, after all, the house that built us.
We’re all beneficiaries of our environment – it’s our environment that shapes us. The tallest oak tree in the forest is not the tallest because it grew from the best or hardiest acorn. It’s the tallest because no other tree blocked its sunlight. It’s the tallest because the soil around it was rich and deep, no rabbit chewed on it as a sapling, or no lumberjack cut it down before it matured.
It’s not just the fact that you come from good stock. It’s about the forests in which you grew up in. Think about it: why do we fight so hard to get our kids into the top schools? It’s because the nurturing and the atmosphere is different. The teachers, the motivation, the pursuit of excellence, the facilities, the quality of students themselves. That whole combo, the atmosphere, that’s what produces the brightest students. It’s like the Greenhouse Effect. If you can create a greenhouse effect in the church, then get ready for super growth to take place.
We’ve a saying in Cornerstone: ‘We have the same father, but we all don’t have the same mothers.’ ‘Mothers’ here of course refer to our nurturing, our mentoring, our upbringing, our pedigree. All of us have been nurtured differently. But you need to be part of a church that’s your tribe. Your vibe attracts your tribe. It’s very important where we’re planted because that will affect our eternal inheritance.
Now, when you’re talking about a house, you’re talking about family. You’re talking about community. And when you’re in a community, the needs and priorities of the community supersedes that of the individual. Yes, the individual is important. But the needs of the community is always placed before the individual in Scripture and anytime, anyone tries to elevate his position or his agenda above that of the community, there are dire consequences.
We all remember Ananias and Sapphira. What they were doing was actually going to set back the community. It was like the sin of Achan. And God wasn’t going to let that happen. There are some things, if left unchecked, that can actually start affecting the overall well-being of the entire community of God.
Your tribe also gives you an idea of what you’re really like. Because according to what you want in life, God will join you to the same kind of people. In a sense, you get a church that you deserve.
From my years of experience, I can tell you one thing with certainty: whenever someone from another church joins the congregation, unless the Holy Spirit baptises him into the vision, the ethos and pathos of the church, he’ll eventually stick out like a sore thumb. He’ll try and fit in, but can’t. But we’ve also witnessed in the last 30 years that there are people who walk into the church for the first time and say, “This is home. This is where I belong.”
It’s a supernatural thing. God joins people to the Body and it’s a perfect fit. When one of our current pastors first stepped into this church, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Welcome home.” He was a piece of jigsaw that fitted perfectly into the puzzle.
Vision has to be birthed in our hearts and the only person who can do that is the Holy Spirit. He’s the One who joins people to the congregation. He’s the One who fits the living stones into their proper placement in the building. I’ve also discovered that it’s not just the pastor who’s handpicked for the church; the congregation is handpicked for the pastor.
Each one of you who is born in this house, or who has been born into this house, is joined to the vision that God has given to me. We’re on a journey together and there are very few things in the world I can think of that’s greater than the privilege of being joined by the Spirit of God to an eternal purpose.
For those of us who can say, “Cornerstone is my home”, it’s a precious thing. We’re living in a day where many Christians are looking for a church home but cannot find one, because it’s not just a matter of attending church; it’s a matter of being part of the Body of Christ. This is called the gift of HOME and I’m thankful for the house that built me.