My 5-year-old granddaughter recently shared with her parents her Christmas wish list. Leading off, was this simple request: “a REAL magic wand.”
She’s serious about this. She also asked for “a real fort.” My wife and I are enjoying watching this exchange from a distance.
Her parents are coming up with all sorts of ways of helping her understand that magic wands may be regular features in fairy tales and imagined stories but are in very short supply in the real world. “Good luck with that,” I think to myself.
Actually, I would like to ask for my own real magic wand this Christmas.
On more than a few occasions, I’ve fantasized about waving a wand over the life of a church member, minister or congregation and making some desperately needed changes the easy way.
If I were to come into possession of such a powerful instrument, here are 12 of the ways I would use it:
1. In one sweep, I’d change the hearts of church members so that they would see their church as a gift to be humbly treasured and shared. Any hint of thinking their congregation exists to serve them would be swallowed up in an overwhelming desire to “seek first the kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).
2. I’d plant in every minister’s heart a positive and hopeful spirit that truly believes that the life of a minster is the best job in the world.
3. I’d wave my wand over most churches and instill an adventurous spirit that puts caution aside and embraces the act of walking by faith as a group.
4. I’d install a core conviction in every single Christ-follower that different is good, and that the more a church reflects the diversity of the people around it the better we will portray what heaven will look like.
5. I’d use my wand to reignite a love for and devotion to Jesus Christ that trumps all things religious, political and cultural so that an era of integrity would sweep over our churches.
6. I’d unleash a wave of humility across the church and especially in its leaders.
7. My wand would wave and suddenly people would listen more than they would talk and would pay attention to the needs of the people around them.
8. I’d wave my wand and God’s people would find themselves consumed with a desire to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick and those in prison. In doing so, we would see our cities and communities through the loving eyes of Christ.
9. My wand would cause all God’s people to portray him in such a light that every citizen in every community and city would be drawn to the good news because of their witness. Hope would swell all over the church.
10. In a sweep of my wand, our insatiable love of things would be abandoned for the higher calling of loving people.
11. My wand would cause God’s people to laugh often and with abandon. Joy would be the order of the day at church, at work and at home.
12. Finally, my wand would wave and a sense of peace that passes all understanding would invade the hearts and minds and homes of God’s people.
Isn’t this a nice fantasy? The problem is, there really is no magic wand that will make these things happen overnight. So, is this just wishful thinking on my part? A Christian fairy tale?
Maybe so, but perhaps it is time for us all to look, not for a magic wand, but for the one who lived a life that defied logic, wisdom, convention and all boundaries.
Because he did, and because he continues to do so, all of our dreams and wishes can still come true.
We need to allow Jesus to capture our imaginations this Christmas. When he does, count me among those who are waiting breathlessly to see how the miracle of his coming is going to break out in his church.
When it happens, it might even look like magic. Join me in that prayer, won’t you?
Bill Wilson is president of the Center for Healthy Churches (CHC) housed at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.