God is neither confused nor disoriented in these troubled times. If there’s one thing we’ve learned during these last few years it is that God is both faithful and trustworthy. It just might be true that the Holy Spirit is most active in rough times – bringing comfort and strength to the weak and overwhelmed, offering wisdom to those who ask, guiding and nudging, speaking and empowering. God is here – with each of us wherever we are – even right now as you read this. God’s Kingdom is here – at hand – coming – delayed. All of it wrapped up and enacted by feeble hands and knocking knees (Isa 35:3). We’re praying that this reality would be planted deep down in each of our hearts and would produce a rich harvest of hope in due course. We are in this together and God is with us.
Colossians 1:9-12 is a good picture of what the Holy Spirit has been nudging us towards, namely: transformation, connection and activation.
“Since we first heard about you, we’ve kept you always in our prayers that you would receive the perfect knowledge of God’s pleasure over your lives, making you reservoirs of every kind of wisdom and spiritual understanding. We pray that you would walk in the ways of true righteousness, pleasing God in every good thing you do. Then you’ll become fruit-bearing branches, yielding to his life, and maturing in the rich experience of knowing God in his fullness! And we pray that you would be energized with all his explosive power from the realm of his magnificent glory, filling you with great hope.”– Col 1:9-12 (TPT)
The primary calling of being a disciple of Jesus is to become more and more like Him in our thoughts, habits, and actions – learning to be like Him in every way. Paul says, “all the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Col 1:10). This is a life-long process of maturing into Christlikeness – of living more fully into our image-of-God-ness (Gen 1). This must be kept in the forefront. The paradox here is that when we strive for transformation, it becomes elusive. However, when we focus on Jesus – his life, relationships, thoughts, actions, etc. – we become more like Him. We become like what we worship and we reflect what we worship.
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.1 John 2:6
“When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.”N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope
Being together releases energy. Encouragement happens in community. Covid-19 has restricted relationships and thrust many into survival mode. We’re praying that the varied moments of connection that we do have will be like life-lines that will not just keep us afloat, but actually pull to safety those who feel overwhelmed. This is not a solitary activity. In the Colossian passage above Paul uses a plural “you” (Col 1:9-12). A simple text message to someone can be huge. A phone call, a hand-written note, a hot meal – small gestures like these communicate love and plant seeds of hope. Like Paul, we’re praying that we would all be strengthened with God’s power, have patience to endure, and be filled with energizing joy (selections of Colossians 1:9-12 NLT). The best path to this? Connection.
We are excited by the growth of Home Groups this year. There are also a number of Triads who are meeting regularly and sharing life together and a number of beautiful moments of connection have been catalyzed through CarePortal. These are all parts of the “fruit bearing branches” that comprise WCV. We believe God wants to increase these and actually infuse our community with energy through these growing relationships with each other, and those who are yet to be part of our church!
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”1 Thessalonians 5:11
We believe this next year God will lead us into reaffirming who we are and why we are placed at 782 Main St. We don’t want to just do the same old things, but just a little better. There are new expressions of who we are that are going to find fresh legs in this next season. We want to find ways to notice the inner leadings of the Holy Spirit that will result in life and joy – not just another thing to do in an already busy life.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”Hebrews 10:24-25
As we lean into Jesus, we will be transformed. As we lean into each other, we will be energized and encouraged. As we follow the Spirit’s promptings we will be led outside of ourselves in service of others. Let hope be planted! Let your kingdom come!