What would Moody say to us today as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the church he founded?
He would tell us that social work is necessary; in fact, he combined the Gospel with a social emphasis in a way that was unique for his time. However—and this is important—he would go on to say that the preaching of the Gospel must always come first. And, I believe if he were alive today, he would be pleased to know that The Moody Church has consciously maintained that emphasis.
He would also remind us that the Gospel is for everyone, regardless of their background and their sin. When he began the Illinois Street Church in 1864 (which would later become The Moody Church), he hung a sign outside the door that proclaimed, “Ever welcome to this house of God are strangers and the poor.”
I am pleased to say that although the original sign is long gone, a similar sign still greets visitors when they enter The Moody Church today. Throughout its 150-year history, The Moody Church has emphasized the need to reach out to all who feel left out of society or cut off from God, whether by poverty, ethnicity, or any other factor. The church has provided practical help of all kinds to numerous people both here in the city of Chicago, and around the world. One hundred and fifty years after the church was founded, we are still “Celebrating the Joy of Changed Lives.”
When he preached, he aimed directly at the human heart. Imagine him preaching with animation, and with the help of a vivid imagination. Even in the following short paragraph we can feel the passion and urgency with which he spoke.
I can imagine when Christ said to that little band around Him, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel,’ Peter said, ‘Lord, do you really mean that we’re to go back to Jerusalem and preach the Gospel to those men who murdered You?’ ‘Yes,’ said Christ, ‘Go! Hunt up that man that spat in my face, tell him he may still have a seat in My Kingdom yet, if he repents. Yes, Peter, go find that man that made that cruel crown of thorns placed on my brow, and tell him I will have a crown ready for him when he comes into My Kingdom, and there will be no thorns in it. Hunt up that man that took a reed and brought it down over the cruel thorns, driving them into My brow, and tell him that I will put a scepter in his hand and he shall rule over the nations of the earth with me if he will accept salvation. Search for the man that drove the spear into My side, and tell him that there is a nearer way to My heart than that. Tell him I forgive him freely, and that he can be saved if he will accept salvation as a gift.
May God give us the heart and the passion of the man who had one aim, and that is to glorify God in sharing the Good News Jesus came to bring us. As we approach our anniversary we are reminded of Moody’s favorite verse, “He who does the will of God abides forever.”
Learn more about D.L. Moody and the church he founded in Celebrating the Joy of Changed Lives. This pictoral history celebrates 150 years of changed lives beginning with D.L. Moody and continuing to today. Learn more about this limited time offer at moodymedia.org/150book.