Category Archives: 2012-10

Pastor’s Pen for October, 2012

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.   (Ephesians 4:11-13) In recent months, I have been thinking a lot about the Christian life and what makes it unique.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it has three distinct but interrelated parts: Identity, Spirituality, and Mission.Identity” refers to how we understand ourselves as a result of God’s activity in our lives through Jesus Christ.  The New Testament consistently maintains that a person’s life is significantly different after they form an intimate relationship with Jesus.  As Paul says, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)  It may take some time to fully grasp the extent of that change, or to find the right words to describe it, but it’s clear that things are no longer the way they used to be.  This change is more than just a shift in what doctrines or religious ideas we believe, but a change that makes a noticeable difference in how we think, feel, and act - a change that has taken place in us that others can’t help but notice. “Spirituality” refers to the specific practices we regularly engage in to keep our relationship with God alive and well.  These are the things we do on a daily and weekly basis that keep us attuned to Jesus’ presence in our lives.  Just as a marriage suffers when a couple fails to spend enough time with each other, so our spiritual life suffers when we fail to cultivate a personal relationship to the Divine.  Some of these activities will be personal and private, (e.g. prayer, devotional reading, contemplation, etc.) while others will be public and interpersonal (e.g. worship, singing, conversation, etc.).  Both public and private aspects are essential, because Jesus the whole person, not just our hearts and minds. “Mission” refers to how we go about sharing God’s love with others.  It has to do with how we join together to help those around us to experience God’s gift of new life in some concrete way.  Whether it’s in our families, our community, our workplace, our recreational activities, or in the church, every faithful disciple of Jesus is given a mission in life.  While the particular mission may change over time, we are always called to serve others in Jesus’ name.  Sometimes, it will take a lot of prayer and the insights of other Christians to help us figure out what exactly God wants us to do, but we can be sure that God always has a mission for us, no matter who we are or what our circumstances may be. Many of us find that some of those aspects are easier to deal with than others.  But like a three-legged stool, they all need to be firmly in place if our faith is to be stable, mature and effective.  For that reason, the church needs to be prepared to help people strengthen and coordinate these three aspects of the Christian life. Over the last several years, I have been gathering tools that I think will be useful to help people do this.  The Deacons and I are currently exploring ways to help every person in the congregation assess, strengthen, and integrate their Christian Identity, Spirituality, and Mission.  I hope you will find our efforts welcome and effective.  The goal is not to judge anyone else’s behavior or theology, but to enable people to assess their own needs and to help them discover the resources that will keep them moving forward in their faith development.  We also want to help people identify others who can partner with them in their journey toward the fullness of Christ. Whether you are already a church member or whether you are simply someone searching for spiritual growth, I invite you to contact me about learning more about the kind of “spiritual health check-up” that I’ve been describing.  You have nothing to lose, and much to gain! - Duane