What Are We On About?

God’s word leads us down a different path.

O.T. LESSON:   Isaiah  56:1-8
N.T. LESSON:   II Cor 5:14-21

The Lighthouse

There’s a lighthouse on the hillside
that overlooks life’s sea ,
When I’m tossed it sends out a light
that I might see.
And the light that shines in darkness now
will safely lead us o’er
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse
my ship would be no more.

And I thank God for the lighthouse
I owe my life to him,
For Jesus is the lighthouse
and from the rocks of sin
He has shone a light around me
that I might clearly see
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse
where would this ship be.

Everybody that lives around us
says, “tear that old lighthouse down,
The big ships don’t sail this way anymore
there’s no use of it standing ’round”
Then my mind goes back to that stormy  night
when just in time I saw the light
The light from that old lighthouse
that stands up there on the hill 7

In our ‘post-modernist’ society, principles and objective truth have taken a backseat to a ‘make me feel good’ and ‘as long as it works’ approach to life. If religion works for you that’s great, but it really doesn’t affect me.

However God’s word leads us down a different path. Society wants an ‘at-a-boy!’ but followers of the Way (as the apostle Paul calls them) are called to ‘sing a different tune’.  As Paul stood before Felix in Ceasarea, he presented the Gospel (the Good News) and “he discoursed on righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come” [Acts 24:25].  In contrast to the world wanting to be comfortable and accepted, we as believers are called to be countercultural, and to expect rejection and persecution [see I Peter 1:6,7].  And notice Felix’s response in verses 25,26: he “was afraid.. ‘when it is convenient I will send for you’… he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe“.

What God has called us to be in this world is to be a community of believers practicing the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. You see Jesus told his followers “as you are going [that’s what the sense is of the word ‘Go’] into all the world preach the good news to all creation making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father,Son, Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” [Mark 16:15; Matt 28:19,20].

The early church had a hard time with the going: it took major persecution to get them to scatter throughout the area [Acts 8:1]. And then as Paul was commissioned, the gospel became a phenomenon throughout the ‘then known world’.  History says it went from Spain to China.  And a missionary to South America found evidence of the Gospels’ message high in the Andes where white men had never gone. 6

God also called us to the Great Commandment: “Love each other.  Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” [John 13:34,35 NLT].  And what does that love look like?

“Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable or touchy.  It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.  It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.  It you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.  You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. .. love goes on forever.” [I Cor 13:4-8a Living Bible]

And God has given us a framework in which to develop this: it’s called ‘the church’, the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, a building expertly built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Christ as the chief cornerstone [Ephesians 2:20].  And in this church “he…gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets.. evangelists…pastor/teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ will be built up.. and become mature… and build itself up in love as each part does it’s work.” [Ephesians 4:11-16].

Eugene Peterson in his book The Unnecessary Pastor says that sometimes pastors or leaders will think that nothing happens without them.  Then he goes on to say “We (pastors) have important work to do, but if we don’t do it God can always find someone else, and probably not a pastor”. You see a pastor isn’t someone you hire “who is an expert to keep you ahead of the competition– or someone to follow so you don’t have to follow Jesus anymore” 1 , but rather someone who leads by example; challenging, cajoling, comforting, and lighting the fire of the compassion of Christ under you, equipping and together with you discipling, training and welcoming into the church those who are being saved. [Acts 2:47].

The activity of the Christian / “follower of ‘The Way'” then is to do the work of helping people come to know Jesus and helping those who know him (whom to know is life eternal — see John 17:3) to grow and develop in their expression of the character of Jesus Christ [Romans 8:29].  “Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God 2 for it is God who inspires you with the will (the ‘itch’ 3) to do the good things which you desire to do 4, and also the power to achieve His purpose 5[Philippians 2:13] .. For I’m convinced that “No temptation [this word can also be ‘testing’] has seized you except what is common to man(kind 3).  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. [I Cor 10:13]”

Will you trust Him — that is, abandon yourself to his mercy and accept his gracious forgiveness and thorough cleansing and on that basis love with God’s unconditional AGAPE love — love your family, your church family, all those who are the blood-washed ones — loving in such a way that those who are outside of the kingdom will be forced to say  “look at how they love each other, at how they care for each other”.

Then God will get the glory and those who are prepared will be added to the body of the believers (the followers of “The Way”) – and the angels will be rejoicing.

1  Peterson, Eugene. The Unnecessary Pastor, Grand Rapids, Eardmans,  2000. [return to message]
2  Peterson, Eugene. The Message.  NavPress Publishing Group, 1995. [return to message]
3 D. H. Friesen [return to message]
4 Lamsa New Testament (translated from the Peshitta), Philedelphia, A.J. Holman Company, 1968. [return to message]
5  Phillips, J.B. N.T. in Modern English, London, Geoffrey Bless, 1960. [return to message]
6 Olsen, Bruce. Bruchko, Orlando, Creation House, 1993. [return to message]
7 Words and music by Ronny Hinson, Journey Music Co., 1971. [return to message]