The Road to the Future

January 21, 2022 • Rev. Rob Fuquay

"Let those who come after me deny themselves, take up a cross, and follow me." Matthew 16:24

In his book, The Thunder of Bare Feet, Wallace Hamilton tells about a scene that happened over three hundred years ago in a frontier settlement along the Atlantic coast. Elected officials had a road built from the settlement that went five miles westward into the wilderness. When the project was finished, some of the fellow settlers stood up in a town meeting condemning the project as a waste of public funds. "Who will travel this road?" the critics argued. "Who will have reason to go as far as five miles west from the seacoast?"

Hamilton says, "It is a paradox in human nature that the pioneer spirit so quickly dies, even in the pioneer, and that people who could see three thousand miles across an ocean could not see five miles across a continent once they got a foothold there." Whoa. Hamilton goes on, "Something like this happened to the Christian movement," and then quotes theologian Elton Trueblood. "Once the church was a brave and revolutionary fellowship, changing the course of history by the introduction of disturbing ideas. Today it is a place where people go and sit on comfortable benches waiting patiently until time to go home to their Sunday dinners."

That's a scathing assessment of the modern church for sure, but we have to acknowledge ways it's true. So many churches are dying across our nation and world. Surveys one after another report the departures of young people from church. The pioneer spirit can so quickly die even in the pioneer.

But fortunately, this is not the pattern in all churches. Many are alive and growing, especially in the southern hemisphere and some of the poorest places on earth. Churches daring to offer hope where hope is most needed are thriving. Typically these churches are ones that do not shy away from disturbing people. In fact, they expect and demand a lot of their members. As Richard Rohr points out, "The only religions that are growing today are those that ask a lot of their people."

This Sunday we will be thinking about the importance of risk and sacrifice in the spiritual life and how faithful obedience to the mission of the church must involve a willingness to dare. Jesus called followers to take up a cross, otherwise, we have what Bonhoeffer called cheap grace. A "Christ without the cross."

The road to the future may not always make sense, but the sacrifices made for others who come after us to travel on it will be a church God keeps alive!

See you Sunday,


Rev. Rob Fuquay