Well, that's a scary statement to start out with. I sense it. I know it. We are arriving.
Not arriving, in the sense that we've reached our destination, but more that we are on the right path. I know that this is where God has us and it feels good to be in the center of God's will. I know he will take care of us. I trust his guidance. I am at ease.
Yet, I still have a passion and burden to see God's Kingdom expand in the Springfield area. I want to see it now. I want to see people coming to know Jesus and growing in that relationship with Him and others. I do see it. It is happening. But, there is much yet to happen.
I read a book recently called Starting a House Church. It was one of those books that didn't say much that was new, but really clarified and communicated pretty much every thing that I've been thinking about and wanting to communicate about our vision for becoming a simple expression of Christian community that brings glory to God.
I hope everyone that would consider joining us would read it. It's my vision in 184 pages. Or it at least contains my vision. God is doing something new in our culture today. He is reinventing and renewing the Church. It is not a replacement for all those "bad" churches. It is a new thing for a new church that is yet to come to and know Christ. It fits my personality. It fits my giftedness. It fits my passion. Gee, I wonder how/why God has given me this vision. It just makes sense.
This simple church or house church is all about relationship. This is something I've been passionate about for quite some time. I don't come from religion. I didn't grow up in the church. I came to know Jesus at 19 years of age. It's not that I don't like rules, after all I've been accused of being a conformist and wanting lines to color within, it's just that rules aren't the way of Jesus. Life, love, relationship. That's the way of Jesus. He clearly points that out when he reminds this young man that the greatest commandment (rule, if you will) is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and spirit. But, he doesn't stop there and he doesn't give the greatest commandment without quickly following it up with the second is like it, to love others as yourself. All the commandments (rules, mind you) are based on these two things.
If I do nothing else, I know that Jesus wants me to love Him and love my fellow humans. Pretty simple, yet profound and not always easy.
I know this because I have a family. I come from a family. I have built friendships. I have had people fail to love me. I have had to learn to forgive. I have had to learn new ways to live. I have learned new ways to love. I have much more to learn, but I as I do, I know it is all about relationship. It is all about letting my relationship with God influence all of my other relationships. After all, until I've experienced his unconditional love, can I really do that for others? Until I know I'm fully accepted, can I truly accept ALL others? I don't think so.
It's easy to love those that love me. When someone is patient with me, I want to be patient with them. When someone compliments me, I want to help them. When someone shows me appropriate loving affection, I want to reciprocate that. But, what about when someone tricks me into taking sides in an argument? What about when they frustrate me by hurting others? What about when they attack me by poking holes in my defense? What about when they question my character or belittle me? What about when they don't meet my needs when I think they should?
How then, do I respond? Certainly this week, I know I've failed. I know I haven't been the person I want to be. I haven't loved in the face of attacks. I've fallen short and let my anger get the best of me. I've been sensitive and even selfish. Now, I'm not saying I didn't have a "right" to be angry or to lash out. When justice isn't served, we have a right to be upset. But, Jesus taught us another way to live. He showed us by his example.
Grace. Mercy. Love. Forgiveness. Humility. These are all things he exemplified in his life and in his teachings. These are things he expressed first to mankind, so that we may experience and then be able to share them with others. Everyone. Even our enemies, or those that attack us.
When people spit at him, he cried for them. When they punched him, he turned the other cheek. When they belittled him and called him names, he didn't retaliate. He had mercy on them. He gave grace when they didn't deserve it. He loved them despite their anger and evil actions. He forgave them while he was still on the cross being crucified. He showed true, genuine humility considering the needs of others far before his own.
Thank you, Jesus. I need your forgivness. I need your grace. I need your mercy. Give me your love. Give me your life. Give me your humility. Help me to forgive those who have hurt me, who have neglected me, who have disappointed me. Help me to grant mercy, grace, and forgiveness with unconditional love. Teach me your ways. Teach me your life. Help me to share it with others.
I was just reading the other day an article that reminded me of something so profound and so true. The church doesn't so much need better people as much as it needs people that are willing to be forgiven and to forgive others. Will you forgive me? Will you seek to be forgiven?