One of the great objectives of Community Week: for us to draw together as a single entity so that with one heart and one mind we can serve the Lord as a missional body on Montgomery Street, Easter Road, and wherever else He chooses to send us.
What then is the spiritual need of the city today? My opinion is that the primary need is for evangelical churches like us to return to a more locally-rooted, community-centred ministry.
When I was a child, I often walked into churches and wondered why everything felt dead. As I became a man, I realised that the problem was not the church, but my heart. God was present; the aridness did not come from without, but within. Slowly, as I learned what it meant to come to Jesus and drink of His every-flowing grace, my entire experience of church changed. Church shifted from feeling like a desert to being an oasis. Worship became an experience of gulping grace and bathing in love. The shift was transformational.
A sign of authentic faith is when a person stops asking the question, ‘what do I want from life?’ and begins to ask a different question, ‘what does God want from me?’ This shift is a sign that the idol of self has been dislodged and that there is room in the heart for Jesus to be Lord. Only then can life-planning become productive because only then is planning an act of obedience.
Part of the reason why I want us to look at the horizon is because I genuinely believe we are headed in an exciting direction. Last Sunday morning we thought together about the gospel imperative to “enlarge the place of your tent” and “strengthen your stakes” (Is. 54:2). This is a timely word to us.
Imagine what it would look like for you to live a life consecrated to God – not just in the morning when you have a devotion, or at church on Sundays – but with everything, all of the time. This, after all, is the deep intent and purpose of God. His will is not just that we praise Him occasionally, but that our entire lives are summed up in a single word, worship.
When we think back to Jesus being scourged by the Roman guards, or having to carry the cross-beam to Golgotha, we need to own the truth that he did this so that the curse of sin could be lifted from our shoulders. Jesus was not a victim; he was a sacrifice. He willingly gave his back to the whip of justice so that our guilty souls could be pardoned.
One of the great dangers of being an adult is feigned competence. After having lived several decades, we slip into thinking that we have the wisdom and strength needed to manage our lives. Without being fully aware of what is going on, the attitude of dependence evaporates and we are left in a hardened state of self-reliance.
One of the ways we can avoid this threat is by meditating on Jesus’ words, “I am the light of the world”.
One of Satan’s favourite tactics is to convince us that we’ve exhausted God’s willingness to show grace to us. We imagine that the grace of God is a finite reservoir. To draw from it is to deplete it, and to deplete it is, eventually, to run dry. Yet, to think this way is to twist the beauty of the divine nature into a ludicrous gargoyle. With God, grace is not finite, but infinite.