Greetings to the Church in Orlando that meets with Seth and Emilie! May the pleasures of God abound in you greatly as you proclaim Jesus to each other and to the community around you.
News has reached me all the way here in Seattle of how you model the love of Christ and engage with each other in Spirit-filled community. I implore you to continue in this manner, always. Not because all eyes are on you, but because it’s the way Christ would have you live- serving, learning, and living with each other in a way that makes others intrigued and excited. And don’t you feel better when you’re a part of that sort of community anyway? Regardless of any attention that it may or may not get you, meeting together in humility and generosity is invigorating! It is its own reward. And I do not want you to ever miss out on the joy that comes for that sort of intentional relationship.
I know what it’s like to be without that sort of connection. Here in Seattle, 3000 miles away from our roots, life is not easy. Community, friendship, and support do not simply spring up overnight and we’ve been straining against loneliness and frustration since the day we arrived. In fact, we’re eagerly waiting for the day when we can return- joyfully entering again into the lives of the people who we love so desperately.
Regarding your group, I’m sure there may have been times when you’ve looked at your numerical presence and wondered how you could possibly make any difference in the Kingdom of God. That kind of thinking is unfortunately in line with the economy of the world (which says “the bigger the better”). Now that you have been united with Christ, you do not find your nationality and loyalties in the kingdom of earth any longer. It’s time for you to intentionally consider the ways of the Kingdom of Heaven and put your expectations in line with Christ’s teachings. It’s going to be hard, no doubt, because God’s economy doesn’t make sense with what we’ve grown accustom to here on earth.
In God’s economy- the widow’s mite is worth more than the piles of money tithed by the rich. In God’s economy- the weak and mourning are considered blessed rather than the strong or joyful. In God’s economy- trials and suffering are worth more to us than comfort and good times. I could go on and on, but I think you already understand that there’s a different paradigm that comes with a new Kingdom- a different reality that we’re beginning to see and understand. And in this new reality a small band of people can literally overturn the world! Do you recall what happened in Jerusalem at Pentecost? That small band of people changed history, beginning with their local environment, and then the entire Roman Empire, and now centuries later, their influence is still felt in our own lives.
Size is of no concern in the Kingdom of Heaven. In fact, often it’s better to be small. When you’re small in your own eyes, it means that you rely on the strength of God rather than leaning on your own popularity or numerical substance. If we began depending on our own strength rather than God’s strength- things might go along just fine for a short time. But like the tower of Babel, anything we create or accomplish in our own strength isn’t going to last. And when our successes come crashing down, just like Babel, the end result is always confusion and frustration.
So, in order to help you grow in your reliance on Christ, I have a challenge for you- look around and find ways to serve each other that will require God’s strength. Perhaps there is a difficult relationship that needs to be mended or a social injustice that seems TOO big for a group your size to address. Look for these things and then prayerfully consider if God would have you address these issues in His strength. If the answer is yes, then do them! Not in your own strength, of course, but with complete faith that God will work with you and through you. You’d be amazed at what God will do through people who are willing to completely trust Him.
Unfortunately, most people will never live in this reality of trust. Instead of looking to God for provision and strength- they look to the government and powers of this world instead. This is nothing new, of course. Do you remember how Israel refused to live under God’s rule and demanded a human king to rule over them? They got what they asked for, but in the process, they missed out on the connection that comes from complete dependence on God. And from that day forward we’ve seen countless examples of people rejecting God’s strength in exchange for something tangible.
I wanted to mention this to you because there is a lot of talk these days about government assistance and what people are entitled to from the State. Don’t fall into that sort of preoccupation. We have the chance to be Jesus to our neighbors! Why would we want the government to take role from us? Besides which- when people help other people, a spirit of community forms through generosity and thankfulness. That doesn’t happen when they receive help from the government. When an economic stimulus check or education voucher comes in the mail, no one is grateful to the government- it merely perpetuates a cycle of entitlement. We begin to feel like we have a right to whatever comes our way.
The same can happen anytime we place these sorts of expectations on an organization or institution. If we always delegate compassion and mercy to homeless shelters, food banks, or another individual who is more “gifted” in that area, aren’t we saying No! to God? Aren’t we telling Him that His strength in and through us is not enough? This doesn’t mean that organizations who help people in hard times are to be avoided- but the reality is- God is in charge of meeting people’s needs, not the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or the deacons in a local church. Sure, when God chooses to work through those mediums, we rejoice! But we must not assume that simply because He’s meeting peoples needs through these other avenues that we are exempt from taking part as well.
When you trust God and help out your neighbors- even when it costs you time or money- you literally subvert the cycle of entitlement and invite the Kingdom of God. You break away from Israel’s mistake and reject the kingdom of earth.
So, keep it up! Keep looking for new and creative ways to trust God. Go all out in faith and trust Him to provide the strength for what He wants to accomplish in and through you.
That’s all for now. I look forward to hearing from you soon and I hope we can meet face-to-face one day! Until that time, I hold you dear to my heart and pray for you always.
Faith, Hope, and Love be yours in abundance, Nathan Key