Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Reading, Reflecting, Repenting
Last week I wrote to you in greater detail to share some of my thoughts and some of the Bible’s teaching related to the current unrest and sadness of our nation right now surrounding the sin of racism – both personal and systemic racism. As I continue to reflect on the brokenness of all this, not only am I still grieving with those who are grieving, fearful, and frustrated right now, but at the same time (somewhat paradoxically perhaps) I’m often finding myself dismayed with my own heart and the coldness and self-defensiveness of my own heart. This, in turn, has been a means for me wanting to better understand the struggles of others and to love others better, as well as repenting of when I’ve failed to do that in the past.
So, as I continue to repent and pray for healing and growth for our country and churches, I’m also reading and reflecting. I’m trying to read both Christian and non-Christian authors on the issues of racial injustice and where we may or may not be as a country right now. I’m grateful to some of you who have been recommending good books and posts.
Preparing for Sunday Worship (at home)
This Sunday I will lead us in a reflection on Mark 1:14-20 in which Jesus calls us to repent, believe, and follow Him. As you prepare for worship this Sunday, consider: what would true repentance look like in your life right now? Also, have you truly ‘left everything’ to follow Jesus, or are you holding back on some areas of your life?
Theologians agree that the Bible teaches three kinds of God’s presence:
- God is present everywhere. He is “omnipresent.” So even where there are no human beings, God’s presence is there (Psalm 139:7-12).
- God takes up dwelling in a believer, by His Holy Spirit, once the person is a new creation, and born again (1 Corinthians 6:19; John 14:16-18).
- God takes up dwelling among His people, the local church, when they gather (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21-22).
This means that God is present in the life of a believer in a different way than God is present, say, with the stars. And it also means that God is present in the corporate worship (the physical gathering) of a local church in yet another different way, different than God being just present as each single person worships in the group. (And we could add a fourth kind to the three above: that when we see Jesus face to face, our corporate worship of him, as described at the close of the book of Revelation, will be on yet another level.) But this is what makes our inability to gather as a church so sad right now. We don’t have the ability to gather in the presence of God together and thus are missing out on the dwelling of God in that third sense.
Please continue to pray for wisdom for your church leaders as we continue to discuss and pray about what it will look like for us to eventually begin to regather as a church.
Gratefully yours in Christ,