Summer 2018 Pastoral Newsletter

Summer 2018 Pastoral Newsletter

Is There Enough Evidence to Convict You?

By Joan Steele, Director of Religious Education, Mission Administrator (6/1/2018)

 

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” John 15:9

Jesus said to them, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35.

“He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.” Mark 6:7

Jesus said, “Here I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:27c

“The greatest among you must be a servant.” Matthew 23:11

Jesus was pretty clear, wasn’t he? Repeatedly, during his three years of ministry, Jesus instructed his disciples in the mission of ministry that he was calling them to embrace. We know ourselves how quickly time slips away from us. Imagine the concern and apprehension that the apostles felt as the sands of time spent with our Lord were swiftly pouring through the hour glass. Jesus, himself, kept reminding them that his time with them on earth was coming to an end.

Although they did not truly understand what Jesus was trying to tell them, at the time, he did promise to not leave them abandoned. He told them he would rise from the dead on the third day. He did so. For forty days after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to his Apostles. He told them (and thereby, us) that it is not for them to know the time or season that the Father has established for him to return in the second coming. “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Jesus’s message to them was also directed to us, to all Christians, to all Christ-followers. We are to continue to carry Jesus’s message of love to all people. I once heard someone say, “It’d be easier to be a good Christian if other people weren’t involved.” While there are days when my spirit wants to agree with that statement, my heart reminds me that it is impossible to be Christian without interaction with others. Being a Christian, living the message of God’s love to a hurting world, requires interaction, requires us to be the love in all our relationships, regardless of how temporary they may be.

This isn’t always easy. It requires of us self-sacrifice. It means putting others’ needs ahead of our own. It compels us to look at situations through God’s eyes. The church provides us with examples of how to walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk. Through works of mercy, especially corporal works of mercy, we are given a blueprint to help us navigate, with the help of the Spirit, our life, our world, alongside our Savior.

These are not instructions for the faint of heart. They can seem to be pretty heavy demands in a sometimes very scary world. But if we can keep our eyes, our hearts and our souls fixed upon Jesus, then we too, like Peter, can walk on water. Jesus did not send his disciples out alone, but rather, two-by-two. He knows how much more difficult it is to navigate life and resist temptation when we don’t have someone to help us. As we prepare to step out of our comfort zone and truly live like Jesus would have us live, offering His love to everyone we meet (even the people we don’t like, are mad at, or maybe even a little scared of), let’s ask God to provide us with a partner. It may be a friend, your spouse, a prayer partner from your church or neighborhood, your sponsor, or your sibling. We pray that God leads us to someone who shares our faith, perhaps knows our history and loves us well enough to be a true friend who is able to help us be accountable in our actions and on our spiritual journey. Yes, God is always with us and always hears us. Sometimes, though, we need a flesh-and-blood person walking with us on our journey.

When we look at people who are living this type of life, all over the globe, we see people who live with a higher vision. We see the lives they touch and the positive influence they impart. Creating a ripple-effect, they improve the life-experiences even for those beyond whom they have initial contact.

This community excels in reaching out to help others. It is a relatively small community with big-hearted, generous people. We can, however, do more to live as Jesus commanded.

It has been said that “being in a church no more makes you a Christian, than being in a garage makes you a car.” If next Sunday a masked gunman stormed into the church and threatened to kill everyone that he could determine (through the evidence of your life) was a Christian (a Christ-follower), would there be enough evidence to convict you? It’s a question that should leave all of us contemplating our lives and our daily actions.