Pastor’s ponderings

I cannot begin to count how many times someone has told me that their understanding of some portion of Scripture has changed over the years.  They read it one way some time back and now read it in a different light.  This happens because as we grow in our faith, and our context changes over our life, our understanding of what these passages mean will also change.

            Yet, this begs the question – does the Bible change?  Does The Word change?  Does Jesus change?  Does the Holy Spirit change?  Does God change?  Over and over again, Scripture testifies to the fact that God does not change (Mal 3:6), Jesus does not change (Heb 13:8), and the word of God does not change (Isa 40:8).  Yet, our understanding of the divine certainly does, doesn’t it?

            There was a point in my life that I thought God was so big, so vast, so important, that God just simply set things in motion and couldn’t care less about what happened from there; the universe came into being and we were left on our own to determine what the eventual outcome would be.  In other words, it was up to us as to what the future held – utter destruction or blissful eternal life.

            However, as my faith journey continued and I read my Bible more and more, I began to see that this was not at all the case.  God has always been at work for our best interest.  All throughout history, God has been working for our good.  We just couldn’t see what was happening, understand it, or may have even refused to acknowledge it.

            For several weeks, during our Fall Sermon Series on being “Forged in Fire,” we have taken a look at God’s prevenient grace going before us, how God has been blazing a pathway for us to follow, forging us along the way as instruments for use in the Kingdom.  In the coming couple of weeks, we are going to move forward and understand what the final steps of this process look like, how these instruments are crucial in the workings in the world around us.  Yet, this also made me realize how much more there is to say about God at work in the world around us; God’s grace, blessings, mercy, peace, love, and work in our midst that we so often don’t talk about often enough.

            Think about it.  God came into this world, to walk among us – Emmanuel, “God with us,” in the form of Jesus, God in human form.  Then, when the perfect act of sacrifice had been accomplished, overcoming darkness and death, God continues to move among us and within us through the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, Jesus’s Spirit, The Spirit that works in our hearts, minds, and communities.  This is the Trinity at work – God the three-in-one, one-in-three.  This definitely is not the work of a far-off god. This is not a god who has left us to do everything on our own.  This is God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            Have you ever stopped to really think about the words of the Great Commission?  Sure, as we recall, in Matt 28:16-20, Jesus commissions his disciples to go into the world and make more disciples, right?  This is our great calling, our responsibility, our duty as followers of Christ.  But pay attention to that line about baptism – “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (v. 19).  In the name, not names.  The three-fold understanding of God in a singular state.  The One coming to us in a variety of forms that we may better understand and grow in relationship with the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all life.

            Peter wrote about being “chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:2, NRSV).  He wasn’t talking about the work of three different individuals pointing toward one another.  He was referring to the mighty work of God, an all-encompassing effort that can only come from divine grace at work in the world.  What we are and who we can become is not by our doing, but by the grace of God, flowing around, through, and within us as individuals and as the collected Body of Christ.  It is “the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13) at work in our midst at every moment of every day in a variety of ways, all to bring about the best possible outcome in the end.

            You may struggle with knowing God.  You may struggle with understanding that Jesus wasn’t just some historical figure (as I once boldly proclaimed in my life).  You may struggle with trying to grasp the presence of the Holy Spirit right here and now.  If so, understand, they are real.  God is at work among us every moment of the day.  Jesus gave his life for us and the Holy Spirit continues to testify to the power of this precious offering.  For all who come to believe in these things, there is this promise – God knows you and will go to great lengths for you, coming to you in ways that make sense to you, and promises that no matter what, if you accept being in this divine relationship, all things will work out for good.

            Perhaps we all need to ponder that a bit further today, and consider where we are in our faith journey.  Do we truly know God?  Have we accepted Jesus as not only our Savior, but Lord of our lives?  Are we allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in all that we do?  Is the Trinity a part of our very life and being?

                                                                        Always pondering,

                                                                        Pastor Steve

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