For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 New International Version
We love [God] because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 New International Version
The search for meaning in my life ultimately brought me to the Church. That quest for meaning presented me, in love, with a life defined by the life of Christ, a Christian life, shaped by the Word of God and the ongoing presence of God in my life. A life initiated in love but further defined by the need for constant growth.
A Christian life in a state of growth consists of at least two further searches, if not more: Acknowledging that God searching for us, we are searching for God. Those two searches are defined and driven by love. In the scripture above, we understand God loves the world and we love God because God first loved us. That affirmation of love is meant to be meaningful and transforming. Most of our lives have been transformed by love: think about it, where would you be without love?
The love we experience is not static or stationary. It is a constantly evolving and at its best, constantly growing, force. It grows deeper through trust and mutual respect, tenderness and care, growing. I confess love has transformed me, and I suspect you as well. Love leads to growth.
I said this past May that “at the heart of God is to be in relationship.” That day it was the relationship of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today, let’s reflect on loving relationship within the Body.
Our new Vision Statement makes relationship core by naming it – Hilltop and then addressing how we are in community: Hilltop – An inclusive community of hospitality, healing, help, and hope, leading hearts to Christ. Our vision is intended to be understood as a statement of being, who we are. We provide hospitality and help, and God provides the healing and hope.
In the First Century, long before we had denominations and set aside buildings for worship, the Christian search for meaning thrived on relationship. We lose our way when we forget that. People are the church: we sing a hymn called “I am the Church.” Too often we get focused on denominations or buildings to define the church, and that is the wrong focus. At our best, we are a restless, searching, people who are, in humility, leading other hearts to Christ.
We call the Church the very Body of Christ. The Church, at its best, is focused on helping us be Christians that are constantly in a state of communicating, receiving, and giving. We are, at our best:
· Communicating the Good News of Jesus Christ to a cynical world,
· Receiving nurture, direction and hope regularly in order to be forces of transformation in that cynical world, and
· Proudly, joyously, giving back to God our Time, our Talent, and our Treasure.
Let’s spend some time this Season of Stewardship, a Season of Prayerful Growth, with great intentionality looking at where we are, or perhaps are not, growing. Are we growing in the depth of our relationship and if not, what are we doing about it? Growing in our minds, growing in our service, growing in the joyful sharing back to God what has been given to us in the first place.
Be alert, be attentive, be awake to the small still voice of God calling to you about how you might grow. In order to truly understand that call, you may have to first be open to your potential for growth leading to joyful response.
Selah, Pastor Dennis