Pastor Chris Parker opened his message by referencing 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11, which references spiritual gifts. He echoed an element of Pastor Jon’s message last week in terms of steadfastly seeking God and His kingdom in this coming year. Chris admitted that, in his own walk, he has had to re-learn how to seek God first. This brought him to a place where he criticized himself at times. His encouragement to the congregation is that re-learning how to seek God is, in fact, seeking God and we can find comfort in our own spiritual lives through this message. Chris also brought up individuals during his message that have recently encountered God working through them in the lives of others. The underlying theme was how humbled those individuals were to have been used by the Holy Spirit in ways that are difficult for us to comprehend. This will help to serve as a launching point as we prepare for Holy Spirit week; Chris encouraged us, regardless of our spiritual background and upbringing, to consider opening our hearts to what God wants to say to others through us.
Continuing with the series, we heard from three people on what seeking the kingdom looks like. Pastor Sally shared about the recent missions trip to Guatemala from which she and others recently returned. They sought the Kingdom by delivering over 150 school supply packages to kids in Guatemala, helping with a construction project that allowed the pastor of the church there to live in an apartment above the church and by engaging in incarnational, cross-cultural relationship building. Next Mary-Kate, who is seeking the kingdom as the director of a pro-life pregnancy resource center, shared about legislation that is set to pass next week that will allow for late term abortions and attempt to shut down pro-life centers. Mary-Kate invited us to pray and to contact our local congressmen. Lastly, Pastor Jon spoke on longing for more. He opened the message by showing a clip from the Matrix in which Morpheus presents to Neo two pills, representing two options that will determine the outcome of his life. The easier option would be to take the blue pill and stay comfortable with life as it had been. Yet, similar to Neo and his longing for truth, God is inviting us to take the metaphorical red pill and passionately pursue him no matter how it might disrupt our comfortable routines. Two scripture texts that Pastor Jon taught from were Luke 11:9–13 and Mark 10:46–52. In the Luke 11, Jesus encourages us to boldly seek God with insistent asking and persistent knocking. As we step out from what is comfortable and pursue God whole-heartedly, we are told that the “Father in heaven [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask” (Luke 11:13). Pastor Jon made the point that there is step on our part. God is waiting for us to ask, seek and knock. This was the case for Bartimaeus in Mark 10. When blind Bartimaeus goes to Jesus who has heard him crying out, Jesus asks him, “what do you want?” (Mk 10:51). Jesus could have easily assumed the obvious, that blind Bartimaeus would want to see, but instead invites him to ask. Why? Because it was important for Bartimaeus to express his faith and hope that Jesus was able to grant him the thing for which he was longing—the ability to see. Jesus extends to us the same invitation he extended to Bartimaeus—to voice our urgent need in passionate pursuit of that which only Jesus can give.