mile 3 :: jesus

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  • November 03, 2008

We gathered for a third Sunday Night yesterday to keep unpacking Luke 24 and talk about how the 7 Mile Road story could be shaping our story.  

mile 3 :: jesus

Even a cursory reading of Luke 24 reveals that there is one central figure in the narrative. Jesus. Jesus is the subject of the travelers’ conversation. Jesus walks the road with them. Jesus asks them questions. Jesus gives the answers. Jesus opens the Scriptures. Jesus teaches. Jesus is invited to stay. Jesus breaks the bread. Eyes are opened to see Jesus. Faith is placed in Jesus.  By the end of Luke 24, worship is given to Jesus.  

The whole thing is about Jesus.  We want 7 Mile Road Church to be the same way.

We talked about what it would like for Jesus and His Gospel to be at the center of a church, of our church. First we said that the men in the story had a veiled, limited, partial, incomplete understanding of Jesus. They were looking for a Savior – but from the Romans and not from sin.  They saw Him as having come from God – but as a prophet and not as God incarnate.  We panned out from Luke and saw that misunderstanding the person and work of Jesus was not unique to Luke’s account. Throughout the Gospels, throughout history, and to our present day, the opinions and perceptions concerning Jesus are many. After working through some common misunderstandings of who Jesus is – we talked about how the Scriptures saw Jesus.  Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, fully God and fully man, perfect and blameless, the final and fullest revelation of God, the one who had come to live a perfect life and die a substitutionary atoning death and be raised from the dead 3 days later in victory of sin and is now seated at the right hand of God as our high priest interceding for the saints and will return again.  Whew.     

Our prayer for the night was that Jesus and His Gospel would forever be placed at the heart of this new church.  We then had a great conversation about the Gospel – what it is and how it differed from religion (religion as defined as human-driven pursuit of God).  On our trusty whiteboard, we wrote religion on one side and Gospel on the other and worked on the differences.  Here’s some of what we came up with:

  • Religion is about works, the Gospel is about grace.
  • Religion is man-centered, the Gospel is God-centered.
  • Religion is lifeless and exhausting, the Gospel is life in abundance and joy.
  • Religion is something are born into, the Gospel is something you are born again to.
  • Religion is about behavior modification, the Gospel is about heart change.
  • Religion focuses on externals, the Gospel focuses on internals.
  • In religion you are motivated by fear and guilt, in the Gospel you are motivated by the love of and for God.
  • In religion we obey so that we might be accepted, in the Gospel we are accepted and so we obey.
  • In religion you use God to get health, wealth, blessing, something; in Gospel you get God.

As we let all of those glorious realities hit our heart, it was obvious that we as individuals and as a church long to be about the Gospel and not religion.  

Before we ended the night, I tried to walk through some examples of having the Gospel inform and shape every part of our lives. Like, marriage, or giving, or forgiveness, or our speech – how all of it can be approached religiously or through the lens of the Gospel. I’m not sure how clear I was and if I didn’t talk a little too much at this point. I’ve lived for so long in the world of religion that now that I’ve seen deeper glimpses of the Gospel – I can’t seem to shut up. Anyway, I’m excited about us as a community coming to deeper understanding and awareness of the Gospel in all its truth and implications.    

We ended the night with several people thanking God for the Gospel and begging Him to place it at the center of our new church.

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road. He loves God, family, food, and football – in that order.

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