Why I love Victoria, Reason #2: Because the stage is set in Victoria for a magnificent display of God’s glory.
That needs some explaining.
I love God’s glory. I don’t love His glory nearly enough though, because every other bright and shiny bauble in this world seems to distract me. My heart is not well tuned to God’s glory. But when I catch a glimpse–in those brief moments, such as during a worship service, hearing the Gospel preached well, finding a nourishing nugget in Scripture–it is heavenly. I long to love God’s glory better and more often.
By “God’s glory”, I mean this: the display of God’s excellence and character. Since God’s glory is by definition a display of Himself, what makes His glory lovely is God’s own excellence and character. When my character is displayed, on the other hand, it is not a pretty picture. But God is worth seeing for who He is.
And I think that’s one reason why my soul is drawn to church plant in Victoria. Because I want to see God’s character and excellence displayed. One could argue there are any number of cities where new churches are needed and where God could likewise be glorified. That’s true. But two realities converge for me in the city of Victoria: that I have loved Victoria ever since my first visit, and that Victoria is among the more unchurched cities in Canada. Vancouver often gets attention as a particularly needy city when it comes to new churches. It certainly is true, but statistically, Vancouver has about one “evangelical” church for every 2,844 people. Whereas Victoria has about one “evangelical” church for every 3,311 people.
A good analogy might be in looking for the potential beauty of a woman, rather than her present beauty. 16 years of marriage has taught me that as beautiful as my wife is, Jesus is more interested in her potential beauty: that there is so much more He wants to do in her to make her truly radiant (Ephesians 5) Likewise, there is lots of work to be done in Victoria. That is certain. This city has a reputation for spiritual darkness which lends credibility to the above statistics. But if it is true that God is glorified when his excellencies and character are on display, what better backdrop to display God’s brightness than the spiritual darkness of Victoria? In particular, the most densely populated neighbourhood on Vancouver Island is the village of James Bay–the oldest part of Victoria. Have a look at this little presentation slideshow I prepared for the elders at Gateway Baptist regarding James Bay, and you will see what I mean about particular need for a church in that village.
[swf src=”http://historicism.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/JamesBayPresentation.swf” width=600 height=600]
(Click the images above to advance the slideshow.)
Not only, however, do I want to see God glorified by displaying His excellence and character against the backdrop of Victoria, I want to see God displayed purely. If there were a vibrant, evangelical mega-church already thriving in James Bay, but looking to grow, this would be less attractive to me than the dearth of evangelical witness that exists there now. Isn’t there something about starting from scratch, breaking fresh soil, pioneering a new work–especially when others have so often said it can’t be done in James Bay (or how difficult it will be)–isn’t there something in this that just invites the attempt? Moreover, if a great church were already doing the work of delivering the Gospel to James Bay, and we moved there to join the work, could not people say that of course we succeeded: we had so much already going for us? Isn’t it true that God is not glorified as much when others try to share the credit? This is what Paul, I think, is talking about in Romans 15:20,
“…And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation…”
So the spiritual need in Victoria is really another reason why I love this city. It is a great opportunity to display God’s glory through church planting. Because as much as I love Victoria, that love will never match my longing to see God’s glory on display.