Where is God's Love Flowing?
We are transforming into a community through whom God's love flows. It's a joy to be a part of. In 2022 I fully expect the Spirit to be flowing through our community, but we have some discerning to do. We are a church that tries to join in what God is actively doing rather than a church that tries to convince God to support our ideas. Because of this, a big part of our work is discernment, looking for God sightings and then trying to join in what we see. 2021 was a year defined by grief, so we made space for it and God has brought many new people into our community as a result.
2022 is starting out with much of the same. In our short first week we've already faced more grief through illness, tragedy, and a flood of stories about yet another "weird" holiday season due to COVID-19. We could look at all this and wish that God would just let us get past it, let us get into "happier" times, but if we're paying close attention we'll notice something...
God's love is flowing through this suffering.
If we are transforming into a community through whom God's love flows then we inherently are focused on the cross, because it is directly through suffering that the love of God is expressed. Doug Cullum, the dean of Northeastern Seminary once told me that "To love is to suffer". The Apostle Paul explains in Romans 5:1-5 that,
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
It's a high calling we've been given my friends. If we are called to be transforming into a community through whom God's love flows, then we are to enter into the suffering of our community. It's through our own suffering that God has and will help us endure hard seasons, to do so with integrity, and to never lose hope. The community we live in will meet Jesus when they face suffering because God will use each of us to meet them there and help them walk when they feel too weak to go on.
This Sunday we are starting a new 7 week series called "Milestones: the moments that CREATE the trajectory of our lives" wherein we will look at some major moments in Jesus' own life that did just that. I pray that as we reflect, we will see that the milestones in each of our lives point us toward our purpose as followers of Christ. As we do this, I want to encourage you to pay extra close attention to the connection between each milestone and the suffering that surrounds it. If you want to find your part in God's vision to be transforming us into a community through whom God's love flows, then ask yourself... "Where am I suffering?"