Hearing the Music

Return of the Cloak

main image

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the call of Elisha in 1 Kings 19. We noted then that the cloak of Elijah became the sign of God’s call on Elisha’s life. That same cloak makes its reappearance in our section for this week II Kings 2:1-18. Here we literally see the transition between Elijah and Elisha take place and are reminded that not only does God always maintain a witness in the world, but that he provides for them everything that they need to carry out their calling.

I was thinking of this in the midst of my own sadness of hearing Tim Keller’s announcement that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In so many ways Dr. Keller has been a mentor from afar for me, both in his clear Gospel centered teaching and through the humility and grace with which he has carried the mantle that God has given him. When one recognizes the mortality of such men, one can almost get a little panicky, “Who will carry the ball forward?” This chapter reminds us, for every Elijah there is an Elisha, for every Moses, a Joshua, for every Lewis, a Keller. God will carry his plans forward and is pleased to use his servants along the way, each one uniquely equipped for their time and place.

Staying with Dr. Keller, I am grateful for the work that he and the rest of a very good PCA committee did on the much anticipated and much needed report on Human Sexuality. This report is both Biblically and theologically precise, while at the same time pastorally full of grace and wisdom. With a little effort, it is accessible to all and may very well be the best 30ish minutes that you spend reflecting on some of these issues. As with the totality of our current cultural moment, we find ourselves desperately in need of God’s truth and grace for dealing with the very personal and thorny questions pertaining to how sexuality is played out. While these struggles hit close to home and at times seemingly take the wind out of our spiritual sails, I have so much hope that God’s word truly points the way forward.

 

Photo by Carlos Leret on Unsplash

Expressing Our Unity

main image

This past week our Gracehill brother, Ben Seneker, encouraged the body there to “hold close to the teaching from Ephesians 4, 'walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.'” As America continues to polarize, this is such a timely word for us as members of the family of God, both within our local body and more corporately throughout our city and world.

One of the challenges that we have had to navigate with respect to maintaining unity has been the isolation brought on by Coronavirus. To that end the session would like to invite you to gather for worship at our parking lot services. Over the last two weeks as we have experimented with these services, we have found them be a good portal for gathering in a way that is both eminently safe and affords opportunity for important connections with our brothers and sisters in Christ. For those that may be in a higher risk category our FM transmitter allows you to stay in your car and access the service that way. For those more adventurous, setting out chairs and worshipping outside is been truly a wonderful way to fellowship with God and his people. As Michigan continues to open back up we have a team putting together protocols for a return the sanctuary, in the meantime we will continue to utilize these outdoor services. The weather looks beautiful for Sunday, so why don’t you make plans to join us at 9 or 10:30?  I hope that it goes without saying that we want you to make the best decision with regards to engaging these services for you and your family. We are continuing to produce the Home Worship Guide and will gladly welcome you back when the situation best allows. 

 

Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash

A Pernicious Pachyderm

main image

I wonder if you see him sitting there? You know that wrinkly, grey thing with a trunk for a nose and ears the size of bedsheets. You see him? Yes, it is the elephant in the room. Even though he is enormous we don’t like to talk about him a whole lot. Though not talking about him doesn’t make him go away.

So let’s name this guy. This guy is the elephant of “differences about how to handle the pandemic” and he threatens to divide the body of Christ, both on a local level (i.e. our body at Christ Church) and on a more global level. As churches regather or look toward regathering, this ole pachyderm is going to continue to sit right there in the middle of the room and threaten our fellowship. He is going to incite name calling such as “the reckless”, “fearmongerers”, “Trumpers”, “Liberals”, etc... He will seek to divide along cultural fault lines, the very thing that transcends culture, the body of Christ (cf. Eph 2:14-16). 

So how do we diffuse this guy? We start, of course, by looking at the scriptures. Personally, I have been camping in the last section of Romans, chapters 12 to 16. Here we see a church that is full of cultural differences - Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, nobles and commoners, men and women - all encouraged to “out do one another in showing honor” (12:10), to “live in harmony with one another, and never be wise in your own sight” (12:16). It is these chapters that encourage servants of Christ not to pass judgement on another servant of Christ (cf. 14:4) and those who consider themselves strong are to bear with the infirmities of the weak, never causing them to stumble (cf. all of 14). In Corinth Paul puts this attitude into practice when he says,“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them”. A fellow pastor paraphrased the verses that follow like this “To those who wear masks, I became a mask-wearer; for those who refuse to wear masks, I became a servant. I have become all things to all people that I may by all means win some. I do all things for the sake of the Gospel that I might share with them in its blessings". (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

I appreciate each and every one of you, along with the perspective that God has given you. It may not be the same perspective as mine. I may even think that your perspective is fundamentally flawed. But you and I are part of the same body and we are called to submit to one another, love one another, and pursue truth together. So I will do my best to serve you with humility, because you are my sister. I will do my best to encourage your spirit, because you are my brother. I will always keep in mind that as we love one another we are manifesting the reality that the death and resurrection of Jesus is indeed making all things new! (cf. John. 17:23)

In the weeks to come, as we seek to fulfill our covenant obligation to worship, by gathering in parking lots, homes, parks?; as we begin to open our building on the Lord’s Day to hear his word, encourage one another, offer our shared sacrifice of praise, and Lord willing, feast at his Table; may we be filled with the mind of Christ who laid aside his rights in order to become a servant. Evangelical consumerism demands that the church complies with my desires and my views, or I will not ‘purchase’ the product. Biblical Christianity demands that we lay aside our own preferences and conveniences to embrace what is good for our soul, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors outside the body of Christ, and ultimately for the glory of God.

Friends, please don’t let your view of culture and our many crises rob us collectively of the joy of Christ. With our eyes on Him, may the mastodon of mayhem currently sharing the room with us be turned from a divisive presence into Exhibit A testifying to the power of the Gospel.

 

Photo by ZACHARY PEARSON on Unsplash

12345678910 ... 2122

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/#/report-home/a107216086w160095995p161340156