The Grit & Grace of Being the Loving Community of Jesus Christ
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We have been reviewing our FPC mission statement each Sunday since January 12. We began at the heart of what and who we are wanting to grow to be for Christ’s glory – a people whose lives and witness are identified and activated by love. It’s a supernatural kind of love. It is only by supernatural means of the Holy Spirit that we can begin to have inside and outside of us the kind of love that Jesus calls us to.
It is always important for us to hold up the high ideal of that level of Loving Community, even as we are honest about how our love can often look in our everyday lives together. It is far from the ideal, but we are growing up and learning more of the kind of grit and commitment it takes to love, really love each other. We are also discovering just how this deep love can emerge from our frail hearts and hands as we look to Christ and his love for us. It’s amazing! Ordinary people like us who have good days and bad, who sometimes seem to be oddly matched with others in the church, can actually be drawn together by the grace of God that astonishes the world (and us!) with how much we are being transformed in LOVE! When we recognize this powerful truth of who we are together in Christ, others want to come find out what it is that’s going on. In short, we become very effective to WIN, GROW & GO in faith to our world. That’s exciting!
Here’s a personal reflection on the kind of Loving Community in church that I’m talking about. It comes from a writer and NPR commentator named Heather King. She’s a recovering alcoholic who has come to faith in Christ and offers her unvarnished reflection on her initial experience with the church. See if you can relate to what she describes:
“My first impulse was to think, My God, I don’t want to get sober (or in the case of the church, worship) with THESE nutcases! (or boring people, or people with different politics, taste in music, food, books, or whatever). Nothing shatters our egos like worshipping with people we did not hand-pick …. The humiliation of discovering that we are thrown in with extremely unpromising people!—people who are broken, misguided, wishy-washy, out for themselves. People who are … us.
“But we don’t come to church to be with people who are like us in the way we want them to be. We come because we have staked our souls on the fact that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the church is the best place, the only place, to be while we all struggle to figure out what that means. We come because we’d be hard pressed to say which is the bigger of the two scandals of God: that he loves us—or that he loves everyone else.” (Adapted from Heather King, “The Better Church,” Shirt of Flame blog, 10-23-11)
I am grateful for our bold and challenging mission statement that starts at square one with the great challenge to be the LOVING COMMUNITY of Jesus Christ. That’s just where it needs to start, continue and end. It’s just where you and I need to start as we seek by great faith and hope in Christ to be a people whose lives and witness are identified and activated by his love.
Welcome to the grit and grace of LOVING COMMUNITY!
Pastor John Walker