Thank you to all who prayed for our elders’ retreat last weekend. It was a great time of being together, learning together, praying together, and listening to the voice of Jesus. It was fantastic to be able to connect with those men like that. We spent our listening time in John 3. Each elder spent about 30 minutes meditating on that passage and then we shared with the group what we felt God was saying to us.
There were a lot of different things that people said. One thing that jumped out to me was when one of the elders shared that verse 17 really impacted them. It says this,
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Jesus didn’t come to condemn. Nor did He come to affirm the evil that was in the world. Instead, He came to shine a bright light and then allow people the personal decision of stepping into that light or not.
Sometimes, it can be easy to be in a place of condemnation. There is so much around us that is against God’s best and true path, and it is only natural to stand in a place of condemnation. Consequently, the church (or the Christian) is known more for what they are against than what they are for. I wonder if the reason we do that sometimes is because it makes us not feel so bad about the darkness that is within us. Friends, we always need to judge ourselves first, get the plank out of our eye, so that we can see clearly to help get the speck out of our friend’s eye.
Jesus spent a lot of time and attention on people that were far from God. He didn’t come for the healthy but the sick. And when He came to the sick, He didn’t come yelling at them because they were sick (that would be a terrible physician). Rather, He came with a cure and offered that to everyone.
What is our posture for the world that is around us? Are we standing with one hand on our hip and the other wagging a judgmental finger? Or are our arms open wide to welcome one and all, saint and sinner, to the grace that Jesus offers?
I pray that more and more, I, and we, will be known for our love and grace, for shining the light in the world (not at the world), and for offering the hope of eternal life with Jesus.
This weekend will be the second part in our series called “Exiles’ Handbook”. We will be looking at how Peter describes the exiles. Identity matters! Who we understand ourselves to be greatly shapes the things that we do. I hope you can join us.
Have a great weekend and we will see you on Sunday!
I love being your pastor.