Hello Brother and Sisters,
I wanted to send you a word of encouragement today, which I pray you will find is both pastoral and prophetic. May the Spirit open up our hearts and minds so we can receive it.
This past Sunday after I preached the message When Kingdoms Collide (8 of 9), someone asked, “Did you plan the series with the election in mind?” Yes. I did. Earlier in the year when it looked like I would be coming to Grantham Church, I felt like God was directing me to create a series that addressed our current socio-political context and prepared the church for this moment in time. So I believed then, and I believe even more strongly now, that God wants to challenge and encourage us.
Many of you have heavy hearts today. You are not alone. I believe the church should feel the weight of what has occurred in the last 24 hours. Believing that Jesus is King and is reigning now doesn’t mean we are unaffected by the world around us. However, at the end of the day, we must be willing to leave our concerns with Jesus. Regardless if your candidate won or not, or you intentionally decided not to vote in protest, I think there are a few things the Spirit would have us all hear.
For some time now I have been convinced that the Lord is trying to shake his church loose from her trust and attachment to the power and the methods of politics to accomplish what the church alone can do in her local assemblies.
I think that’s been happening since the Reformation, but becoming most apparent to the church in America in recent times. And I suspect that it will become increasingly evident in the days ahead, for those the prophets would say have ears to hear and eyes to see.
In some form or another, we all feel a certain level of disappointment with the current political landscape. Brothers and sisters, I think it may be necessary for us to experience this loss and disappointment we feel with the worldly kingdoms, in systems we really wanted to work and we thought we could use for the ends of the Kingdom. I’m convinced more than ever that there is a better way---a church that looks like Jesus and indirectly undermines and overthrows empire.
That is going to take some serious re-imagining of the church as God’s “power-under” change-agents in the world. But what if we did that together? Think about that with me.
What if Grantham Church said we can’t change the country or the world, but we can manifest the Kingdom to those within our immediate influence? What if we said we are going to cease relying upon the kingdoms of the world and her partisan politics, and instead we will personally get involved in the lives of people who are hurting? What if we said that we will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God as a local expression of Christ?
What if we adopted the attitude that we will not wait for government to do something about the poor, the prisoner, the refugee, the single mom considering an abortion, and the minorities that are told they are inferior and live in fear every day? What if we responded in love and invited them to the subversive table of the Kingdom? Imagine that. What would that look like?
As followers of Christ, I truly believe that the issues which concern us all are best addressed in and through the church locally, one neighbor and one community at a time. I think the Apostle Paul envisioned that. The ekklesia (the church) of Christ is about God reigning through the politics of Jesus, through the community life of the church and her reconciling engagement with the world around her. We exist to show the world what it’s like to be governed by Christ in our assembly.
Will you join me in praying that God would help us imagine what this looks like at Grantham Church? With the help of his Spirit, we can dream and live out those dreams together.
As Paul said, God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph 3:20).
Finally, as we center our focus on the only Savior for humanity and are reminded of the way God is bringing the Kingdom to earth, may Christ give you his peace by the power of his Holy Spirit. May you experience a renewed trust in the ways of his Kingdom over beastly empire. Let us draw near to the Lord as we move closer to the Advent season. For it’s in this special season that we will hear the angels announce, “Do not be afraid… a savior has been born to you… he is the Messiah!”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV
P.S. Last night we held our Election Day Communion Service. There were about a hundred of us who gathered to worship and remember that we are one in Christ our King. You can access my homily here at our website. Thank you to those who came and experienced a meaningful time of communion together. Also, you can read my vision statement given at Congregational Council by going here on our website. The link was inadvertently left out of the Pastor’s email yesterday.
Grace & Peace,