Following Jesus Together - September 1, 2021
Throughout the summer we’ve been meditating on the apathetic spirituality of our neighbors and how to spark curiosity about Jesus and the gospel in our conversations.
One of the distinct challenges regarding interest in the Jesus of the Bible is a lack of motivation to care. There’s impatience. It takes time and effort to wrestle with the claims of Jesus. And so people don’t try. Some of our impatience is due to living in the digital age. The younger generation are digital natives. “They were born into a world where many tasks are accomplished instantly, requiring only a little amount patience and effort.” (Kyle Beshears)
So how do we spark curiosity in the Bible, a 1200 page ancient book, in those who have an attention span shorter than a goldfish (according to Microsoft)? On average we give things 8 seconds to keep our attention online.
To be fair, we modern people are selective with what we pay attention to. Ask anyone who has said, “Just one more episode” and 6 hours later they are trapped, now in union with the couch at 3:00am, bloodshot eyes, unable to pull themselves out of the story that has shackled their attention. Marvel movies span hours and countless theories as to how it’s all ‘connected.’ Kids are willing to invest in reading a few thousand pages, devoted to the story about the magic messiah, Harry Potter. And then they read it again. Stories grip our attention!
One of the strengths of Christianity is that God communicates to us in story. The Bible is one unified story, climaxing with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The hero, God, is battling evil inside the humans He loves and subduing the evil that harms His beloved. The story begins with the tragedy of Adam in Genesis and begins again with victory of Jesus, the last Adam. The last pages of the story invite us to imagine an eternity in a new creation, in a world of love. It is a real ‘and they lived happily ever after.’
Are you gripped by the story of the Bible? Do you have a desire to binge read it to better know the God who loved you first? Do you have a plan to read it? To meditate on the gospel day and night, as Psalm 1 tells us. As we are gripped by the story of what God has done for us in Jesus, our excitement spreads and invites others to come hear the story. Perhaps our love of the bigger story of the Bible will evoke curiosity from others?
Starting in October, we are going to look at God’s mission in the world. It’ll be a sermon series that spans Genesis through Revelation. I’ve got two main goals:
1 – What is the story of the Bible? Some of you are new to the Bible. The Old Testament is strange and daunting. I want to lead you on a journey through the good news of what God is doing, in a way that you are able to guide others through the Bible.
2 – We get to meditate on the God who chooses the church in her weakness and diversity to fill the earth with the light of Jesus. He chooses connects you to a group of other Christians and sends us out into the world. “May your kingdom come!” Where do you fit in? How can you serve? How can Hope Church be faithfully present in Saratoga County, serving and working for good? My hope is you will want to dive in to the mission with us as you see the story of God’s mission in and for the world.
Update on my Health
A few people asked if I have a diagnosis after 8 months. In the sermon I meant to describe my fear in the presence of COVID-like symptoms and inadvertently said I had COVID earlier in the year. That’s all a giant maybe from the doctors. Please accept my apologies for the confusion!
The short answer for how my health is: I’m stronger than I was in July. But still not 100%. I am still working with doctors to figure out why I still find myself congested and out of breath. I’ll keep you posted. And I deeply appreciate the many prayers!
Communion Sunday 10:00am – 1 Peter 4:12-19
We have 3 more weeks in this great letter, 1 Peter. Come and join us this week as we meditate on how not to be surprised by suffering. I love what Rebecca McLaughlin, author of Confronting Christianity says about suffering: “Suffering is not an embarrassment to the Christian faith. It is the thread with which Christ's name is stitched into our lives.” In other words, suffering reveals what we actually believe. It’s a fiery ordeal meant to form us and connect us with Jesus, the One who suffered for us!
See you Sunday! Grace and peace,