Hello Brothers & Sisters,
I hope this weekly letter finds you living in love toward others as Christ loves you and gave himself for you.
In this past Sunday’s sermon, The God Who Looks Like Jesus, I talked about how reflecting and meditating on a loving God has the power to change our lives for the better. I began the message with this video of Greg Boyd talking about the many portraits people have of God, specifically those that don’t look like Jesus. Greg invited us to rethink and reimagine our portrait of God with this question: “What if the true God is infinitely beyond anything we could dare to dream?” In other words, what if the loving God our hearts long for can actually be known in the person of Jesus?
As I said in my sermon, the incarnation requires that we reinterpret the Old Testament (OT) and throw off all other competing portraits of God that don’t look like Jesus. Is this a radical thing to do? Yes, it is. And I submit to you that the force of such a statement, requiring we accept that Jesus shows us what God is like and always been like, was what Jesus’ original audience felt was blasphemous. This, of course, is the real reason that Jesus’ own people wanted to put him to death. They were well aware of what he was claiming (John 8:58-59; 10:33; 14:5-9).
My encouragement to our congregation is this: Put to death those competing portraits of God that are not good for your head and heart, instead of the true image that Jesus reveals to us in the Gospels.
Furthermore, as I suggested at the end of the service, if you’re struggling with your portrait of God, please take a few minutes each day to read and mediate on examples of Jesus’ love in the Gospels. You can also do this with the OT where you find glimpses of God’s love in Christ bursting through, sometimes in surprising ways! And remember to take captive those thoughts that are contrary to what Christ has revealed about God (2 Cor 10:5). In time, the Spirit will change your head and your heart, and you’ll more and more reflect his image through your life.
Don’t forget that Todd Allen will be with us this Sunday. Dr. Todd Allen is the newly appointed Special Assistant to the President & Provost for Diversity Affairs/Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Messiah College. For the past 16 years, in partnership with the PNC Foundation, Dr. Allen has led the “Returning to the Roots of Civil Rights” bus tour, an educational tour which visits many of the key southern sites of the Civil Rights Movement.
I hope that you will join us on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. as Dr. Allen talks about the Civil Rights Movement: Then & Now. Remember that we will join with our sister congregation in Harrisburg Sunday evening to continue our dialogue about racial reconciliation and the multi-ethnic Kingdom, which we began in January. I hope you can join us for this event and help with the potluck dinner that begins at 5:30 pm.
Come hear Dr. Allen and a panel of people from both churches who participated in the civil rights bus tour, and learn how we can further God’s justice today. If you are planning to attend and have not done so already, PLEASE take a moment to sign-up so that we can make the necessary arrangements for the meal, transportation, and childcare.
Finally, I’m looking forward to our baptism service down at the Yellow Breeches Creek (by the college campus) immediately following the 10:30 worship service on Sunday, August 20. Please plan to join us by the creek for a special time in the life of our congregation and in the lives of those being baptized.
And may God continue to bless Grantham Church.
Grace and Peace,