[This appeared first at LifeChurchNC.com]
July 15, 2016
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
– Matthew 6:9-13 KJV
It’s so easy – too easy – to move on from the recent tensions and violence that has plagued our culture in recent weeks, to jump right back into the ‘busyness’ of our lives, and in doing so, allowing our hearts to be further dulled toward the things that have stirred many of us deeply. During our services last Sunday, we experienced a beautiful time of prayer together, praying for God’s mercy and comfort over those affected by the previous week’s shootings, crying out for peace and justice in our world and in our nation, repenting of our complacencies and our tendencies to fold our hands during such times, while also asking the Father to show us how to respond both individually and collectively as His people – a people called to usher heaven into earth.
Many of us woke up this morning to the news of another tragic attack that took place in France last night killing over 80 people. And I found myself once again shaking my head whispering,
How long, Jesus? How much longer will you allow this to go on? How we long for you to come back soon and set things right once and for all.
With these realities constantly before us, may our hearts remain broken for the things that break the heart of our heavenly Father. May we not be so quick to overlook these things. May we not be guilty of simply moving on with our lives, and in the process, forgetting what has taken place, and subsequently forgetting what the Father is calling us to do as His representatives and ambassadors in this broken and messed-up world.
Starting this week and in the coming weeks, we will be taking more intentional steps as a church to build bridges by contributing to the relationship-building, peacemaking, healing and racial reconciliation that our community remains in desperate need of – all in a manner of Gospel-Centeredness. (Please be on the lookout for these upcoming opportunities and be willing to take the critical and sacrificial next-step be involved by making yourself available, even if that means stepping outside of your comfort zone.) Our next is tonight (Friday) at 9pm as come alongside other churches in our community for a ministry called Nightcrawlers. (details below)
May our actions be in alignment with the words of our mouths and the intentions of our hearts.
Otherwise, we’re just making a bunch of noise. (1 Corinthians 13:1ff)
A glimpse of heaven on earth…
Part of our vision as a local church in Salisbury is to continue to grow to be a church that reflects the beauty and diversity of the community in which God has placed us – because we believe when and where this happens, it uniquely demonstrates a compelling reality, on earth as it is in heaven, of the wonderful diversity that makes up the Kingdom of God. (see Revelation 5:9-10) This particular approach to church and community will always prove to be more difficult, because any time you bring people together from different backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and socioeconomic situations, there seems to be less commonality on which to build relationships. It takes work to build relationships with people who are different from us. It requires humility to do more listening than talking, to ask questions than make assumptions, to make ourselves vulnerable to one another by stepping out of the familiarity and security of our own spaces and neighborhoods. And yet, for those who have been courageously willing to take those steps, it always proves to be well worth the effort, because in doing so, they are being exposed to a whole new dimension of community.
The beauty of the church is the unity we enjoy – NOT in spite of, but – BECAUSE of our differences.
I emphasize this part of our vision because I believe this kind of community I’m describing here is desperatelyneeded now more than ever, and I desperately believe that if the Church doesn’t lead the charge to usher this unique and unfamiliar kind of community into the world, it is a beautiful characteristic of heaven that we may never have the opportunity to experience on earth.
Let’s continue to bring heaven to earth as we lean into this together.
Reflection Question: What am I doing today to usher heaven into earth?