Hearing the Music

in truth

Truth will set you Free!

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As we march through these various “I Am” encounters with Jesus in the book of John, we are brought face to face with the character of the One who came to save a desperate people. These passages are of tremendous comfort for God’s people as we are invited to throw ourselves on One who is strong, compassionate, full of life, and good. However, these self revelations are also challenging because they confirm that God is so different than we are. He is the Creator, we are the creature. He is the Source, we are derivative. And what we see in many of these interactions is that human hearts are not easy with the fact that we are not God. The human heart constantly wants to elevate itself to throne status.

In John 8:31-59, our passage for Sunday, Jesus reminds his listeners that “before Abraham was, I am” (vs 58). In saying this Jesus preempts any claims that his listeners have to truth or identity apart from Him. The claim of Jesus to be the source of absolute truth is one that we have seen before and we will certainly see again (John 20:31;14:6). It also happens to be absolutely central to our engagement with the world today. As we will see Sunday, the Jews wanted to redefine their reality in terms they decided, even to the point of absurdly claiming that they had never been enslaved to anyone (John 8:33). (Hint: they were under Roman occupation at that very moment!) Jesus however wasn’t allowing them to choose their own truth. Jesus plainly called them to believe the words that he spoke. It is only in his words that they would find truth, and it is only in finding truth that they would be truly free! (John 8:31,32).

Almost daily our struggle to submit to God’s truth grabs the headlines. From refugees to the unborn, from gender to marriage, to a whole host of other issues, we seek answers to these questions from the perspective of “us". What are my rights? How does this affect our country? How do I feel about my body? Through it all we hear Jesus saying, "Believe me. Abide in my Word. It is only as you abide in my Word that you will know the truth. It is only as you abide in my Word that you will be truly free.” What a comfort these words are as the Source invites us to such intimacy! But let’s be real, this invitation to true life comes with a difficult call to die to self. But our God is patient with us and, as we will see Sunday, never demands of us something that he does not embrace himself.

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Members of One Another

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For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

(Romans 12:4–5)

This past summer we spent some time in the verses listed above as we studied Romans. We were reminded of the tremendous privileges and responsibilities that are ours as members of Christ and, simultaneously, members of one another. As we get ready to receive new members into our fellowship again this weekend, I thought it would be worthwhile to remind ourselves of some of the language we use in our First Things class talking about our life together:

The Church is a Family. As such, I will do everything in my ability, and with the grace that God supplies, to support my church and its leaders as a regular participant in worship, a regular participant in community life, and a regular and generous giver of my time, my unique gifts and talents, and my financial resources, in accordance with the teachings of Scripture on biblical stewardship. I will be a support to the leaders and staff and to do all that is in my power to make their service a joy to them. I also will do my best to prayerfully engage with those who are not yet “part of the family”, and look for opportunities to invite and welcome them into the church family.

Because the church is a family, I commit to regularly “doing life together” with others in my church family. I will first make an effort to be a regular participant in a C-Group. Or, if this is in no way possible, I will actively seek some other means to become vitally and regularly connected with the people of God. I will refuse to live out my Christianity alone, because I am part of a family, and because I am created in the image of an intensely relational God. When I am in pain or struggling, I further commit to make my needs known to my C-Group and/or to the leadership, in an appropriate manner, in order that they may effectively care for me as they are called by Jesus to do.

Obviously some of our regular ways of doing life together have been challenged in 2020. But challenge fosters innovation and it has been great to see how the body of Christ has rallied. As our individual situations change, as the vaccine is rolled out and administered, as we simply recognize how much we need each other; let us do our best to live out our membership. In that same vein, I talked to one CC attender who came back this past Sunday for the 1st time since March. It was so great for both of us to live out our membership in the flesh. If you are praying through coming back to worship, know that you are welcome.

This week Pastor Addison will be looking at Jesus as the Light of the World, a statement in both John 8 and 9. May he indeed be the light that illumines our way!

Believe, Belong, Beloved

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The turning of the year is always a great time for reflection. As we turn from 2020 to 2021 many of us are ready to flush 2020 down the proverbial toilet and are hoping for a return to normalcy in all aspects of life. While that impulse is understandable, using gospel goggles will help us see that it is ultimately a wrong impulse owing to the fact that in pandemics as in politics, in life as in death, we are not our own, but belong to our faithful savior Jesus Christ!

As we saw this past Sunday, John’s gospel reminds us of this fact. Like John, our life in Jesus results in our being His beloved disciples. This is the bedrock of our identity and the source of our strength through years like 2020 or in the sanguinity that we hope for in 2021. As we will see this Sunday (John 6:22-59), it is as we believe Jesus, the Bread of Life come down from heaven, that our hungry souls are filled. Again, believing is not less than an intellectual assent to the claims of Jesus, but is so much more as we surrender our whole being to him! (FYI - for those of you who were privy to the rolled ankle illustration on Sunday, maybe I shouldn’t have used that as two of my players rolled their ankles this week, including Moses!)

In the past, we have characterized our life together at Christ Church as one in which we respond to the invitation of Jesus to Believe and Belong. Perhaps in light of John, we can modify this formulation a bit. Our invitation is to Believe and Belong as Beloved disciples!

May Jesus become more and more real to us as we walk forward into 2021!

 

Photo by Victoria Priessnitz on Unsplash

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