This article showed up on my Facebook news feed this morning. As I read it, my heart was filled with thanksgiving towards God for you, Seven Mile Road. It is a joy to serve and belong to this local church. Each week as we gather together, we do very ordinary and routine things. No surprises. No special effects. We pretty much know what to expect every time. But by God’s grace, He is using what is ordinary to grow us in our love for Jesus and each other. It’s been amazing to watch. So here are 6 ways I would describe what I’ve seen God do in and through us:
- We are messy. Our church is filled with sinners. And I don’t mean that in some abstract way. Literally sitting in our chairs are folks dealing with addiction, with broken relationships, with rebellion towards God, with difficulty trusting in Him. And you have invited and welcomed them. The gospel has so penetrated your heart that you have befriended sinners. Messy, difficult sinners. But you do so because you remember that you too are a messy, difficult sinner befriended by God.
- We are unlikely. We’re so different from each other. We’re different culturally, economically, experientially, down to even personality. It’s mind-boggling to consider that such different people would gather together and be for one another. But God has done that. He has united us in Jesus and is helping us to forego differences and preferences so that we would learn to live out our new identity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
- We are learning. You sat under 43 minutes of preaching yesterday and you did so joyfully and expectantly. You gather in GCMs and are growing in your ability to notice details, ask good questions, discover Jesus, and make connections to life as you open up the Bible. You meet with other women and pick apart obscure books like Habakkuk. You’re growing in your love for God’s Word and you’re doing so in community through hard work and commitment.
- We are maturing. We are FAR from being perfect (refer back to point #1), but we ARE maturing. It’s stunning to step back and consider how much Jesus has changed our lives over these 7 years. We’re understanding more deeply. We’re speaking with greater clarity. We’re willing to take risks for the gospel. We are, by God’s grace and help, trying to obey Him. We are not yet who we will become, but thanks be to God, we are also not who we once were.
- We are worshipping. Worship isn’t limited to song, but it includes our times of singing. One of my favorite things to do is to turn around and watch you all sing (sounds creepy). On your faces are expressions of joy, gratitude, trust, and dependency. And it’s not because your life is great or that God has perfectly answered your prayers. No, in spite of the hardships and heartaches of life, you have found Jesus to be enough. So you sing. You worship your heart out. And it brings me great joy.
- We are giving. You are so compelled by Jesus and His gospel, that you give of your time, your money, and your skills. It always amazes me to watch you arrive at 7am to prepare for worship, or stick around for 2 services to teach Sunday School, or respond to someone’s need with a generous donation, or be willing to meet at 10pm to help us organize something. There are a 1000 ways you have given of yourself and you do so because of the way your Savior has given to you.
And so, Seven Mile Road, “we give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)