I traveled to the Ural Mountains to lead a pastoral seminar in a town called Lysva. This was a region, until a few years ago, no American would have ever been allowed to visit.
Lysva is a place with a dark history. Many Soviet prisons called "gulags" were located in the Siberian tundra, but more importantly, this is the region that produced the intercontinental ballistic missiles which are even now currently aimed at the United States.
We visited a museum that showcased these missiles that are capable of reaching the United States in 12 minutes with its nuclear load.
Some of us may remember the days when we regularly practiced running and hiding in a shelter in the case of a nuclear attack.
One of the most moving moments for me was worshiping at a church that’s located way beneath the earth in an old bomb shelter. Here were Russians, Americans, Koreans together worshiping God, our Shelter, in an old Soviet bomb shelter. What a perfect picture of who God is.
The pastor of that church in the bomb shelter is Pastor Oleg. He shared with us his vision for the church.
He said the church is like a star. A star has two forces at work – the expulsion of energy (that’s the light we see), and the gravity of its mass.
These two opposing forces keeps the star together.
If the expulsion of energy becomes greater than the force of gravity, a super nova is the result as the star shreds itself to pieces as it explodes.
If the force of gravity becomes greater than the expulsion of energy, than a black hole is the result where everything around is sucked into itself, where not even light is able to escape the grips of its pull.
The church also has these two forces. The expulsion of energy is the mission, evangelism, and community outreach. And the gravity is the loving and the caring of the members of the church. When both of these are in balance and operating as it should, that church shines brightly the light of Christ. But if the church becomes only outwardly focused, the church will lose her identity and explode. And if the church becomes too inwardly focused, the church will suck the light of Christ and everything will be absorbed in that dark black hole.
But wherever there is a church that gets this balance right of both reaching out and reaching in, the light of Christ shines like the morning star.
What a beautiful imagery of who we are as the church of Jesus Christ.