“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”- Galatians 3:26, 28
With this week being the commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am transported to a childhood memory that fills me with pride and surprise. When I was in sixth grade, I was chosen to deliver a speech about Dr. King’s life to all the students at the school assembly. After hours of reading and diligent preparation, I drew from all the courage I could muster to tell the story of a man who sacrificed, promoted, and dreamed that our nation would be marked by love, peace, harmony, and equality.
As more than three decades have passed since my elementary speech in the early 1980’s, and five since Reverend King’s efforts, we look out in our society still seeing a need of healing, change, and unity. As we read the daily stories, we gauge the temperature of a culture that is boiling over and fighting against injustice, division, and hate. Despite the handful of people that repay evil for evil or contribute to the chaos, there are many groups rising to stand as one, to have a voice, and to effect positive change. In fact, these groups serve as a reminder of the power that happens when people come together with a common passion and purpose: From actors/actresses addressing past abuses; parents and fellow students standing up to bullying; first responders and volunteers providing relief and resources to those who have felt the ravaging effects of the Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslides; even to four professional football teams game planning and preparing to take the field with an opportunity to move on to the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.
There is one other group and movement that I have yet to mention…one that has the ability and the opportunity to bring the most impact, life-changing, and long-lasting results. THE BODY OF JESUS! The Church, the believers of Christ and family of God, has been divinely ordered and uniquely anointed to display JOY, walk in UNITY, and stand in VICTORY! In Philippians 2:1-2 the Apostle Paul provides the benchmark of what will deliver the ultimate level of rejoicing and results, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and one in mind.” Yet, this beautiful expression of the Body has experienced much bruising and many barriers that seeks to separate and shift the focus off God’s greatest commandment (love) and the ultimate mission (making disciples and delivering His salvation). We have been bogged down by personal agendas, offenses, and differing theological positions. The same cries and cracks that are in the culture, are needing to be answered and restored in the church.
Amid the picture I have painted over many decades, I have a sense of great expectation that we can live in the masterpiece of God’s design today! To be a people who serve the One true God and who walk in the love, light, and power of the Spirit. As our church family has entered this YEAR OF UPRIGHT FAITH (Romans 1:17) we have already seen a powerful work of UNITY and a subsequent pathway we are to walk out. In the first full week of 2018 there has been a display of unity that has been evident in our midst:
Our first Sunday service of the year was sealed with a special time of ANOINTING each person in the church family.
Our Youth Ministries has moved to Sunday afternoons, being led and cared for through a joint effort by Pastors Othniel Hinckson, Scott Bland, and a team of adult volunteers.
Our church family responded quickly to care for a dear sister whose husband died tragically, by providing the funds to cover the funeral expenses.
What a great start, a great strength, and a great standard before us! As we continue in this year there are many ways for us to love one another, to do faith together, stay connected, and to live on mission as the Shepherd’s House Church.
You can make it a priority to be at our Sunday Gatherings (Encounter Jesus at 9 am and Celebration Service at 10 am).
You can join the year-long CRM REFOCUSING discipleship course that begins this weekend (January 19-20).
You can get involved in our Wednesday night PATHWAY class or the winter session of Life Groups (beginning in February).
You can carve out time during the week to connect one-on-one with others for a meal, coffee, quick call/text, and email.
You can contribute your talents and treasures through GIVING and SERVING to partner with us in fulfilling God’s mission here in Thousand Oaks and beyond!
As we move in this dimension of love, faith, and unity we will be answering the dream and desire of our Savior who prayed this way in John 17:21-23, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me…I in them and You in Me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You have sent me and loved them even as You have loved Me.”