• Latest Tweets

    Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

A Letter to my Congregation: Pastoral Reflections on Yesterday’s Election

Dear Christian–

We wake up this morning to a new world. Some people are excited, some are saddened and some are devastated… but nearly everyone is shocked. And, ironically, I probably could have written this email regardless of who won last night.

I will leave it to the pundits to try and understand how this happened, what it says about the state of the American public and American politics. But as your pastor, my deeper concern is for the fracturing in our country. Each of us has friends and family (and maybe this even describes you) who are hurting and angry. Half of our country feels disenfranchised, scared or completely betrayed by the system.

So what will we, the church, do now?

The church must walk in integrity. Never has the world needed our faithful walk of obedience more than now. May we, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be full of character and known for our honesty and kindness to all people.

The church must be a beacon of hope in the midst of darkness, confusion and instability. People are going to be looking for something firm to hold onto, and initial indications are that even the financial markets will experience significant turbulation and uncertainty. Politics may fail and finances may falter, but we have the hope of the risen Christ as our foundation.

The church must demonstrate peace and unity. Of all the words to describe our nation right now, words like polarized, fractured, broken and angry come to mind. Not peace and unity. In the coming days, there will be a lot of talk of unifying and drawing together. But it won’t work, not apart from the Spirit’s help anyway. Peace and unity are only possible if they start with the church and are modeled by the church.

The church must pray for wisdom for our leaders. We, as a nation, have a long road ahead with internal and external challenges facing us. All of our elected officials will need the wisdom of Solomon to govern well. So let us pray for that wisdom.

The church must honor and dignify those whom God made in his image. We have a President-elect who has successfully offended and angered women, immigrant, Muslims and many more. Racial tensions are high. Into this brokenness, we can be known as those who build up those who feel most disenfranchised and devalued. And maybe for you, dignifying and honoring God’s image-bearers means respecting our soon-to-be president.

The church must model compassion to the least, the last and the lost. May we be known for our radical generosity and love for those who feel like the system has failed them and need help. Julian the Apostate, the 4th century Roman Emporor, once famously said,”These impious Galileans [Christians] not only feed their own poor, but ours also; welcoming them into their fellowship, they attract them, as children are attracted, with cakes.” This pagan emperor’s biggest problem with Christians is that they were so generous in caring for the poor. May the same be said of us.

The church must be a prophetic voice of truth to the world. Into a world of empty words, deceitful words and false words, we are to speak truth with grace. Because Jesus is truth.

Friends, the world is changing right before our eyes. We could get swept up in the changes. But that is not what the world needs right now. We have the incredible opportunity to be a calming presence to an anxious nation. And we can do so because our hope is not in the president, but in the High King. Let us rest and hope in the words of Revelation 11:15, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

For Christ,
Steve

Advertisements

Made in the Image of God

ImagoDei

Yesterday, we looked at a whole bunch of verses about the way the God sees you. Truth be told, that list could have gone on for a long time. But there is one passage that I believe captures, even more than any of those, the way God sees us. He sees us as his image-bearers.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

            So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

And God blessed them (Gen 1:26-28).

Three times in two verses we read that God made humans, male and female, in his own image. And a fourth reference says “after our likeness,” with likeness meaning the same thing. We are the pinnacle of creation, the climax of God’s creative work, because, unlike anything else in that creation, we bear his image. What does that mean? Stay tuned. But for now, exalt in this:

Who I really am is the image of God. And so are you.

 

The Image of God: The Way God Sees Me

who-am-i

“Peter, don’t you know who you are?” So says Granny Wendy early in the movie, Hook. You know the movie: It’s the one where Peter Pan grows up and becomes Robin Williams? Anyway, I digress. The whole storyline of the movie is that Peter has forgotten who he really is. He didn’t know who he was. Just as Peter had been away from Neverland so long that he forgot everything, so we too have been away from the Garden for so long, that we don’t even remember who God made us to be.

This post is the first of several following the class I am teaching at Covenant Life Church. Instead of seeing ourselves the way God sees us, we often define ourselves by our sin, guilt, shame, insecurities and fears. That is often all we see in ourselves and we struggle to believe that God could see us any differently. But he does.

In fact, let me stop and let God start talking. As you read these verses, this is what I want you to hear: this is how God sees you!

  • But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellences of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you have not received mercy, but not you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10).
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Cor 5:17).
  • But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is precious (1 Peter 3:4).
  • For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth (Deut 7:6).
  • Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (Ps 17:8).
  • For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:13-14).
  • Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows (Matt 10:29-31).
  • Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:25-27).
  • For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10).
  • You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house (Matt 5:14).
  • But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).
  • The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Rom 8:16-17).
  • So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God (Gal 4:7).
  • No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).

To summarize, who you really are is:

  • a child of God
  • the heir of all things
  • the light of the world
  • God’s friend
  • God’s workmanship
  • the apple of God’s eye
  • his treasured possession
  • of great value
  • a new creation
  • and precious in God’s sight

Personal Reflection: Is that how you see yourself?