We receive the Word.
Date Published: 04 / 21 / 2022 |
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is , the word of God, which is at work in you believers.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13
53 weeks ago, we started All Souls Church with a few people from the historic church that met in this building, Valley Baptist Church, and 5-7 people who remained after Covid from Redeemer Burbank. I think there were about 12 people on that Palm Sunday. Last week 67 people gathered to worship with us on Easter!
Having been a mega church pastor, I can tell you that numbers mean almost nothing in regard to church health. In the church world, the last thing you should be impressed with is numbers because numbers like that almost always spring from pragmatic compromises to the mission and foundations of the church laid out in Scripture with very few exceptions. What we should look for is the people's response to the Word of God. Are people hearing it and are people responding to what they hear with love and sacrifice?
In the above passage, the Apostle Paul thanks God for the Thessalonian Church because they are responding to the Word “not as the word of men but as it really is the word of God.” In this very young Thessalonian church, (less than a year old) there probably were not any mature Christians holding things together (aside from maybe the pastor), but people responding to the preaching of the Word with faith and obedience.
As we continue on this journey together,
this is the primary thing I need from you (the congregation):
You don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need to be super spiritual, you don’t need to be a big “L” leader, you don’t need a checked-off Bible reading list, or a prayer life that is the standard.
You need to make a commitment to live your life by the Word and repent when you fail - every day because you will likely fail every day. Decide beforehand that you will obey Jesus no matter what his Word says and no matter the cost or discomfort.
The last thing I will say is there is space for people to be human: to have flaws and to misunderstand or to have a selfish moment or say the wrong thing or make the wrong joke. There is room for you to have a bad day or get irritated. We believe in grace for humans and mistakes are as welcome as obedience. Just make sure you extend grace for people who rub you the wrong way. A church is a diverse group of people sitting under the Word of God together so there is bound to be tension, discomfort, and need for lots of mercy. But it is beautiful!
I love that at All Souls there are 30-something entertainment folks hanging with Vietnam vets and folks from the builder generation. I love that teenagers get to hang with 20-somethings and various ethnic groups are sharing life in Christ; differing political points of view, capitalists, socialists, Dodger fans and people who root for sub-par teams all gathering to hear the word about Jesus.
I love you all and I love this church! Let’s keep going!