Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Our Knowing Jesus sermon series continued this past Sunday with an excellent message by Pastor Kelly. If you missed it, check out Abiding in the Person of Jesus (4 of 6). Pastor Kelly directly addressed what it means to “abide” in Jesus rather than just know about Jesus. With examples like “the empty chair” story, she invited us to see prayer as simple conversation with Jesus.
So, I want to encourage you to relate to the Lord in that way. This is what the spiritual disciplines (e.g. prayer, Bible reading, fasting, worship, etc.) are all about: connecting with the living Jesus.
This coming Sunday I will be guiding us further into this series by considering what it looks like to experience Jesus in missional community. Yes, we should be talking to Jesus and cultivating a personal relationship with him, but we should also learn to know Jesus through the Body of Christ.
To use a phrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer liked, it’s about doing “life together” that we come to know Jesus and are able to follow him. Sure, Jesus publicly attracted crowds and he worked the social spaces (e.g. synagogue), but he also called his followers to come closer and know him in the personal and intimate spaces within his church. Join us in worship as we push back a bit on American individualism and imagine afresh what it looks like to see and hear Jesus in others who regularly gather as the family of God.
Until we gather again, I want to remind you that we (the church of Jesus) have been called to shine the light of the gospel on the darkness we see in the world around us. As citizens of heaven, that is our holy calling in this world. As the apostle Paul said to the Ephesians: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11).
As your pastor, I want to encourage you not to join the cacophony of angry voices in American society when you seek to “expose” the evil deeds of darkness, but instead seek to be agents of peace and ministers of reconciliation as you prayerfully embody the presence of Christ in your places of influence. Speak the truth about racism, white supremacy, and all forms of violence against those made in God’s image, but do it with the love that Christ displayed on the cross, for it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance—it’s Calvary Love that identifies us with Jesus.
Finally, remember that our ultimate struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual evil in high places (Ephesians 6:12). These forces are at work blinding minds, hardening hearts, stirring up fear and hate, turning us against one another, and exploiting the weak and vulnerable.
Do not succumb to these demonic powers. Rise above it, church. Trust in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our persistent prayers, our radical hospitality, and our generous acts of kindness. Put your trust in Christ and act out of your true identity and allegiance.
And may the Lord strengthen us as we continue to do the work of the Kingdom.
Grace & Peace,
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