Jesus claims to bring abundant life, and to be the way (path), the truth, and life. Using this and the passage in Proverbs, Jon introduced us to an acronym PATH.
P – Purpose – your path is connected to your purpose.
A – Acknowledge who He is and who you are.
T – Thinking – Aligning our thoughts with His gives us a healthier internal and external life. H – Heart – Your thoughts are determined by your heart.
Purpose - In Jeremiah 1:5 God declares that he had a plan for Jeremiah before he made his way into the world. Jon reminded us that we also have a purpose. Acknowledging who He is and who you are. In life, we often divert from the path. Sometimes this is necessary and good, while, other times we divert for the wrong reasons. In this type of situation the goal is to be reminded that HE loves us even when we screw up or do wrong, and that we can admit the truth of what we’ve done. This process is what puts us back on the PATH. Thinking - So much of our world view is determined by our perception as opposed to reality. The reality we believe should be ultimately defined by God. Thus, aligning our thoughts with his thoughts will give us a healthier internal and external life. Heart - our thoughts are determined by our heart. Danny Silk notes that true change happens from the inside not the outside. This is paramount to our Christian existence letting Jesus change us from the inside out.
Roy started a new series this week called Kingdom Culture. He started the series talking about the difference between the earthly family culture and the heavenly family culture. Each family is different and has a culture that is unique to them. In the same way that we are born into an earthly family, we are also born again into a heavenly family. Just like there is a culture to our earthly family there is also a culture to our heavenly family. The heavenly family culture is set by God and we are always working to more fully live out the heavenly family culture, in some cases this means renouncing our earthly family culture. This doesn’t mean that we reject the people but rather the views of that culture. Roy shared Mark 3:31-35 where Jesus’ family visited Jesus, but Jesus shared that those who do the father’s will are his family. He doesn’t reject them outright but indicates that the priority is to serve the Father. He always honors his mother, even when on the cross he makes sure that his mother Mary is cared for by giving her to John. Roy made the quote that “You honor your family, but you obey the Father.” Roy shared the story of his father and grandfather. His grandfather was a successful architect and valued that above most other things. Roy’s father started to follow in his footsteps and went to college for architecture. He met Jesus in his senior year and gave everything to him. When he graduated he turned down a prestigious position in order to preach the gospel in the jungle. Roy’s grandfather couldn’t understand this and it caused great strain in their relationship. Later when Roy and his parents were living in Chile, Roy’s grandfather developed a severe depression that lasted for ten years. When nothing else worked he remembered his son was a pastor and that there might be some relief there. Roy’s grandfather gave himself over to Christ and was transformed. He visited Roy’s father in Chile and shared how proud and excited he was for the work Roy was doing. Roy’s grandfather had never been proud of his son before, or at least could never show it. The transformation from an earthly family culture to a heavenly family culture allowed a healthy relationship to happen between Roy’s father and his grandfather. Roy concluded on the point that we can better love our family when we are a part of the heavenly family culture rather than an earthly family culture.
Pastor Jon continued the series that Roy began last week entitled “Kingdom Culture”. Specifically, he focused on examples in the Bible where people experienced the presence of God and how He longs for us to pursue His presence in our daily lives. Ultimately, God’s presence is what brings His kingdom culture to earth. Additionally, Pastor Jon explained that God’s presence and His Holy Spirit are available to us. If we desire to experience His presence, the best thing we can do is to seek God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Pastor Jon referenced the story of Solomon in 2 Chronicles chapter 5. In this story, Solomon inherited David’s plan to build a temple for God. However, even though Solomon completed the temple and had an amazing experience with God’s presence as a result, he eventually fell back into sin by building idols and worshipping pagan gods, which angered God. The main point behind this story is that the presence of God is a wonderful thing, but God wants to be more than just on the outside of His people, which is why He sent Jesus to bear the weight of our sins. Pastor Jon concluded his message by referencing John 16:7: “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” This emphasizes the fact that God’s presence in His people brings His kingdom and His culture.
Continuing with the Kingdom Culture series, Pastor Chris taught that the culture of the kingdom is not about divine retribution but is instead about the manifestation of the kingdom on earth as in heaven. Divine retribution (or retribution theology) is the idea that people receive from God, whether good or bad, what they deserve. While we might reject this as being inconsistent with the character of God we see revealed in Jesus, we often hear and sometimes think that tragedies (such as natural disasters, illnesses, car accidents, etc.) are in some way a judgement for sin. Basically, if you’re asking the question, “What did I do to deserve this?” you are assuming a theology of retribution. This is not only a common way of thinking in our day, but it also permeated the Jewish worldview of Jesus’ day. Jesus’ disciples encounter a man who was born blind and ask, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:3). Jesus rejects the retributive theology that assumes someone is at fault and says, “Neither.” This is basically what the book of Job is about.
The book of Job opens with Job losing his health, wealth and family. While we as the readers know that Satan is the one behind Job’s tragedies, Job and his friends are unaware and spend most of the book reflecting on the reason for Job’s plight. We thus have three perspectives/theologies on God throughout the book: Satan (the accuser) who views God as a control freak, the friends of Job who view God as one who engages in retributive justice, and Job who claims that God is not just because he is unjustly suffering. While all three perspectives are to be rejected, God says that Job spoke what is true (42:7). Job is right with what he said not because his theology was right but because he was honest with God about how he felt. The invitation for us is to have the same sort of honesty with God as Job and to reject a theology of retribution that claims that people receive bad events in their lives from God because they deserve it. Instead, we are to manifest the kingdom without any evaluation on whether or not brokenness/suffering is deserved. The people of God are called to implement the kingdom of God wherever and whenever it is absent.