REJOICING TOGETHER IN HIS LOVE
Psalm 122:1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.
We rejoice tonight in the way we have been able to join our voices and hearts together under the banner of the gospel of Christ. We rejoice together that a people of diverse backgrounds, education, income, and perspectives can join voices together as ONE by the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in Christians and draws us together in praise. We rejoice in our common history. 53 years ago Jackson Street leaders had the vision and foresight to plant this church to reach out to what was then North Monroe. Today this property sits amid thousands of homes on a busy street. This signals to me the wisdom and prayerfulness of the Jackson Street elders a half century ago.
It is also historic that the elders of our two churches have been meeting to talk about the possibility of joining together to form a new church in this area to renew, reinvigorate, and refocus the mission of the church to reach this parish with the Gospel. That’s a complicated and multi-layered discussion that requires a lot of prayer and a focus on what we hope to accomplish for God in our brief lifetimes. I’m thankful we have godly elders leading our churches who are men of prayer and who love the Gospel of Christ. May God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In the Gospels, John started out a son of thunder but through the transforming power of Christ became the Apostle of Love.
“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are!”1 John 3:1, CSB
In this short verse is a reminder that should always give us the basis for who we are as individuals and as churches.
We are the recipients of a great love.
The world talks about love constantly – movies, songs. Whether it is unrequited love, lack of love, or falling in love or out of love. But John says we have received a great love – a different kind of love.
We are loved by a Father.
A father’s love is crucial to the development of a child. There are no perfect fathers. Sometimes when we talk about God as a Father there are those who struggle to find that a good thing because of their experience. Whether you had a good father or not, God perfectly fills the role of a father in every way.
We are loved freely by a love that has been given to us.
John tells us that the great love of the Father has been given to us. The NIV has it, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” I like that term ‘lavished’ – it tells me that the love of God is not sparse, but overflowing in our lives. I can’t earn it and I can’t act in such a way that it is no longer available to me. God can never love me more nor less than He does now because His love is perfect.
We are given identity because of this great love.
John tells us that because of this great love of a Father we should be called God’s Children. That’s true of us individually. It’s also true of us as a gathering. God has children, and we gather tonight as His children, brought together by agreat love of a perfect Father who freely gathers us around His table. In reality we are not two churches gathered here tonight. Someone once said, “I regard every child of God as my brother or sister, since I am a child of the Father. Wherever God has a son I have a brother.” [Carl Ketcherside (Mission Messenger, Vol. 35; No. 5; May, 1973; p. 65)
] We are God’s children, called to love Him and love and accept one another.
We have a mission because our Father has a mission.
Then there is a reminder that John gives us: The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him. Is this just a melancholy reflection, a sadness that the world doesn’t know us? I think it’s a reminder of why we’re here. The world can’t know what we know until it knows the Father. How will the world ever know the Father if His children do not share the reality of the love he has for the world with them? That’s why we do all we do in the name of Christ. We want the world to know that they are loved. We want them to know that anyone can be God’s child if they will freely receive that love. We want them to know that they can enjoy the beautiful identity of being a child of the Father. In that sense, that is what God called His family together to become – messengers to bring in the prodigals and sinners. If that’s our mission together then God will bless it. That rises above our preferences and passions.
We pray for the Father’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
We confess: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
We give Him glory when we experience life as his children and help others come to know that as well.