Friday Devotion with Kim Wu
Do you have people that ask you that in your life? Maybe not in those exact words, but they ask you how you are really doing? Not the casual how are you that you exchange more as a form of greeting with friends and acquaintances. No, this question comes from people who have a genuine concern for you, and how you are doing in your journey of faith. And when life gets complicated and hard, these people offer you the ministry of presence – encouraging and supporting you, and reminding you of God’s presence, God’s love, and God’s grace.
These people are also the ones giving you the gentle nudge you need to push yourself a little in learning how to be a Christ follower, and reflecting that in your daily life. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) The simple truth is that on our own, we just don’t stick with it as well. When we have others in it with us, working alongside us, that’s when spiritual transformation really happens.
Life is meant to be shared, and that includes our faith life. Small groups are places where you are known, encouraged, and challenged. It’s a space where you can be authentic, and have authentic Christ-centered relationships with others. Small group members bear each other’s burdens and celebrate each other’s victories.
If you are not in a small group right now, you’re missing out, and I don’t even think you realize how much you are missing out. In terms of my own journey of faith and connection to my church community, joining a small group was like going from a black and white world to one bursting with color. It is priceless to have a place where I can be heard and supported, where I can wrestle with my own faith questions and learn from others’ spiritual journeys as well. I have a great group of friends outside my small group, but the dynamic of a small group is vastly different. My small group has helped me struggle through some challenging circumstances and through it all, strengthen my faith. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to have that too.
And let me say this. There is nothing worse than feeling alone when we are in pain. And pain has a unique way of putting space between us and others. So if you are struggling with anything right now – and let’s be honest, there’s lots to struggle with these days –don’t do it alone.
Today in the E-news, the fall Journey program will be published, which contains opportunities to join short term small group studies as well as a list of ongoing small groups that welcome newcomers. Take a leap of faith and sign up for something. Or if you are interested in starting a new group with a few of your friends, we will help you get that started. You will be so blessed by this decision to be in a small group, and you will be a blessing to others.
Thursday Devotion with Pastor Will
Wednesday Announcements with Pastor Will
Monday Devotion with Kim Wu
In these times of division and rancor, I think we are sometimes seeing our friends as enemies. We are at least treating them this way. I confess I am personally wrestling with this; maybe you are too. So in reflecting on this command to love our enemies, it might be helpful to include those people we are disagreeing with right now. Those people we are struggling to love.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon in 1957 on loving our enemies, and I would like to share some of his thoughts on how we can do this, or as I like to reframe it, how we can love those we are finding hard to love.
Dr. King says we must begin by looking to ourselves. Is there something within us that has stirred up or created this tension? How have we contributed to it? We all have blind spots; have we taken the plank out of our own eye so that we can see the speck in our brother’s eye more clearly? And have we made an effort to know and understand that person and their point of view better?
Second, we must look for the good in the other, so that whenever we think of that person, we think of that good thing. There is good and bad in all of us, but we are all made in the image of God and therefore worthy of love.
Third, Dr. King states that “when the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. “ We are called to agape love for others, which is an intentional striving for the other person’s good. Agape love is the love of God working within us, which seeks nothing in return. When we love someone in this way, it is not because we like them, but because God loves them.
Dr. King also spoke to why we must love our enemies, or those who are hard to love. “Hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe.” We can be caught up in a never-ending cycle of hatred, and as Christians we are called to break that cycle with love. If we don’t, that hate can distort our personality and our vision. The lens through which we see and interpret the world and the actions of others can become clouded by our negative emotions. What is truly beautiful and good can look ugly and terrible to us.
The final reason Dr. King provided for loving our enemies is that love is powerfully redemptive. Christ’s love flowing through us can bring transformation and healing everywhere and always. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we just need to keep on loving them, and He will take care of the rest.