“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”
There is a feeling in society that the church is losing its relevance that this thing called the “Body of Christ” no longer is in touch with the post-modern world. The question is where is the starting point of the conversation? If the starting point is defined by personal agendas, then yes, the church is irrelevant. God sent Jesus the Christ into the world to redirect our attention from ourselves and establish a relationship first and foremost with God. The Christian faith, the church, is all about relationship; first with the way, the truth, and the life which is Jesus Christ, then with one another. St. Paul lays out the very definition of the Christian faith, which is all about how we relate to and love those around us just as Christ loves us. When Jesus walked on the earth, he ate, drank, and related to people, most of whom did not share his commitment to God. Yet he loved them, and cared passionately for them. Jesus did more listening and celebrating than he did judging and preaching. In other words, Jesus, in all his relationships, shared the amazing grace of God to all people; he listened a lot, laughed a lot, and loved the people more than they were ever loved before. The people who met Jesus were transformed because Jesus cared about them enough to witness the love of God through his commitment to the truth grounded in God’s grace. So what happened to the people that were touched by Jesus? Did their lives change? Yes! Did they come to know Jesus as their Lord? Yes. Was the Word of God relevant to how they lived prior to meeting Jesus? No. The Christian journey begins with turning back to God, confessing who we are and seeking to live a life of grace through Jesus, and witnessing a faith that offers hope, peace, and the grace that only God can offer. When relevance is based on God’s grace, then every relationship we have depends on our abiding relationship with God and our commitment to share the grace of God, even with those who may not look like us, think like us, or act like us. Bottom line is, it is all about God, and God’s grace shared through Jesus Christ. Open your arms and your heart to those around you; you will be blessed as you will be a blessing. Thank you Jesus for the privilege to serve.
“Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
Jesus has a way of calling people to witness the incredible message of grace to a world sorely in need of God’s grace. Did you know you have been called? It is true; you have been called by God to witness the good news of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Is your response to the previous statement, “wait a minute, I have not been called by anybody and even if I were, I am not equipped. It is not me, Lord, it is not me….” If that is your response, you are not alone; anyone who humbly accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior feels humbled by such a statement. It has been said the “Jesus does not call the equipped, but equips the called.” The original disciples of Jesus were hardly bastions of righteousness or educated about God in any way. Yet Jesus called them and equipped them to do amazing things for the Lord. Jesus used the gifts the disciples were given to further the ministry in spite of who they were, and Jesus uses us in the same way. Our church is blessing a mission team to be the hands of Christ to the people of West Virginia, and down to the one of them, have doubts about what can be done, especially in a non-familiar part of the country and using tools sometimes alien to their everyday life. But God sees the team differently; God has called each of them to serve, to follow, with the gifts they have been given. The amazing thing about the Holy Spirit of God, it does equip those responding to the call, and not only transforms the lives of those served but also of those serving. You are filled “all in all” with the presence of God; you just need to accept the call that is being placed to your soul. Follow Jesus and be blessed, as you are a blessing to others. Thank you Jesus for privilege of serving in your name. Go, and affirm as the old hymn sings, “I will go Lord, if you lead me; I will hold your people in my heart.”
“…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
In a world that demands our time, seeks our devotion, and can drive us crazy, God offers an alternative. The church is no stranger to making things more complex than they need to be; Micah wrote these words during the 8th century BC so folks have been struggling a long time about this thing called faith. The Christian faith has its essence in the pure love of God. It is not hostile towards those who do not believe rather God goes to the extreme, even death on a cross to redeem even those considered unredeemable by those in the habit of judging others. “Doing justice” is about sharing the grace of God, actually living the faith which calls us to see others as God sees them; souls worthy to be saved. What Jesus Christ offers us is the incredible freedom to serve not out of fear or obligation but in the pure joy of serving. To “love kindness” is to fully live the gift of faith and joyfully witness Christ through the joy we share. The essence of faith is not what we do, but what God has done in us, it is about God’s grace transforming lives through the gifts we have been given. When we walk humbly with God we are confident that we can do all things through him who loves us as we begin to more fully comprehend this amazing God we serve. Thank you Jesus for the gift of faith and new life!
“All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, what does this mean?”
The day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, amazed those gathered together trying to figure out what Jesus was all about. The coming of the Holy Spirit definitely shows who Jesus is not: Jesus is not an exclusive God to one nation, race, or ethnicity; Jesus does not seek to destroy or blow up people because they may not agree with God’s Word rather loves them even more and offers opportunity upon opportunity with redeeming grace, mercy, and power to transform hearts and souls. The people on the day of Pentecost did not begin to understand other languages as an academic exercise but to show the power of God through the Holy Spirit to redeem and transform lives no matter the language, race, or ethnicity. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to see God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are given the ability to be the hands of Jesus the Christ to the world around us. The Holy Spirit is a gift that is given by God that offers wisdom, understanding, hope, faith, and the resolve to celebrate the joy of knowing that the Lord is our strength and our light no matter what life may send in our direction. Jesus seeks all who accepts his saving grace and goes to the end of the earth to find those who have yet to accept him as Lord and Savior, because he also and especially seeks the lost. The Day of Pentecost offers each of us the very power of God through our Risen Savior to transform our world, and all we need to do is accept that fact! God fills us with gifts “as the Spirit gives [us] ability” to do incredible things through the common language of God’s grace, mercy, and power. May you be empowered by the Holy Spirit of God to be the hands, feet, and voice of our loving and gracious Lord. Thank you Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the privilege to serve your children with all we have received. Thank you Jesus!