Yesterday wrapped up a hugely busy week. I've had seven speaking engagements, in Lakeland, Nashville, Bartow and Temple Terrace, all related to the "Reaching Toward Easter" initiative. Additionally, I've been in "virtual" contact with another 110 people through the Upper Room/Be A Disciple on-line retreat.
Sunday morning I had the opportunity to share with a good crowd at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church. It's a quieter, more traditional setting than I'm used to, but the positive experience reminded me that God's people come packaged in all varieties and - once you reach beneath whatever veneer we wear on the outside - we have the following qualities in common.
- People want to know God and to receive God's love - that's why they become part of a worshiping faith community.
- People are motivated to put their faith to work to make a positive difference in this world.
- The people we meet in church have decided, or are thinking about deciding, to become followers of the Living Way of Jesus.
Other than that, there's not a whole lot that matters in terms of the fine details. Seriously. The whole point of church is to gather together and worship God, and to let ministry to one-another and service to the world come out of that unifying experience, and to present a powerful witness to the world in terms of the way that we love one-another.
LOVE: What makes us The Body of Christ is not our doctrinal purity, it's not our theological acumen, and it's certainly not our ability to codify the teachings of Jesus into a set of restrictive social mores we can then use to decide who is "in" and who is "out." No, what sets any community of believers apart as "The Body of Christ" is, quite simply, the way that we love one another. Love, it turns out, is the only rule.
Jesus said - "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35
GOD's PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE: This is probably the part I enjoy the most about visiting so many places, and having the opportunity to share with such a variety of people from my heart. I love the foundational ground that we have in common, and that's an experience of grace, a personal encounter with the saving love of Jesus.
That is the point at which we connect. From there, I pray that I will always encourage a more transformative journey and a "Life-Charged Life."
750 or one: Over the course of the week, in all the venues added together, I was privileged to speak to around 750 people. Today, through the Monday posting to this blog, I'm connecting with you. Can I take this moment to encourage you to think about faith, and to make Jesus the ground that we have in common?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” - John 14:1-7
In love, and because of love - DEREK