We have begun 2016 with a reminder of the mission and vision of the Church, to grow:
Deeper in our relationship with God
Closer in fellowship with one another
Wider in influence in our neighbourhoods
We’ve thought about the Stortford that God wants to build in which people are able to experience a genuine community of forgiveness and grace where relationships are restored and everyone knows that they are loved and valued.
In this community that God has called us to build the basic condition is redemption. We cannot come to a relationship with God without recognising how far we have been from Him. Every one of us that has come to know Jesus Christ as Lord has come on this journey. We have had to acknowledge that we have failed God and fallen short of His glory; that in His love and because of His grace and mercy, He has come into the world to take away our sin and failure. We have had to acknowledge that the price of our sin was paid when Jesus gave his life for us on the cross and that the demand that God makes of us is that we submit our lives to Him in response.
This has brought us on a journey in which we have begun a new life. The old life is swept away and all of its condemnation with it. We have hope and a new calling: to follow Christ day by day and to live redeemed lives in which others experience redemption and reconciliation through us. We humbly express this through our compassion for those around us who need to experience God’s love in their lives. We do so with humility because we have learned to see ourselves as God sees us: a tangle of feelings, fears and contradictions but with hearts that are being transformed, spirits that have been born again in Christ and possibilities beyond our human limitations as we are reshaped into the likeness of Jesus.
Romans 12:3 says: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
That faith recognises both our failings and our possibilities so that we approach life with expectation and also realism. We know that we will often fail but that will not stop us from stepping out in faith to follow Jesus where he leads us; to share our lives with the people to whom He has called us to minister.
In this series we said that the marks of a redeeming community were that:
- Transformation is to be expected in our lives
- Second chances are the norm
- We will not give up on anyone
- We offer transformation not condemnation
- We will believe in what Christ can do in a person’s life
Of course our mission and every act of transformation that God has for us is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit is at work in us, available to every believer, a part of our lives now. So Galatians calls us to keep in step with the Spirit. How do we do that? How do we allow God’s transforming power to take hold of our lives? How do we grow deeper in our relationship with God? This is what we will be focusing on leading up to Easter. We are looking at ways that we can meet with God in our daily lives and grow our relationship with Him. We might do that in some different ways than you would expect in our usual Sunday morning teaching but our prayer is that each of us will draw nearer to the Lord through what we do.
Before I finish I should say welcome to Gustavo, Marcella and Davi. It is our privilege to have you ministering to us and with us. We will seek to make you as much at home as possible. May the Lord bless you richly as you make your home with us and empower you through His Spirit to make disciples in His name.
Yours in Christ,