By Dr. Kevin Thomas —
There’s room for everyone: doubters and believers, new Christians and seasoned saints, even those who deny God’s existence. We are still searching. None of us has all the answers. The reality of God is completely beyond human comprehension. There are those things of which I was once certain that I no longer believe. I’m glad the church allowed me room to grow in love, room to change, room to mature. Some disagree with things as I see them. That’s okay. Their vision could be clearer than mine. Disagreement should not mean division or disunity. Perhaps, if we remain in holy conversation, we might both discover the truth-and both be surprised by it. We don’t exclude or push away people who believe differently. How will we believe unless we hear? How will we hear unless we keep the conversation alive? I pray that our extremely divided culture might unite to seek God.
Loving friends is easy-so is loving college football, cheeseburgers, and homemade ice cream. But, the mark of us Christian is that we love our enemies. That commandment seems especially difficult. How are we supposed to have such a positive emotion towards people we don’t like and who don’t like us? Biblical love is less about emotions and more about actions. Sharing love is less about “warm fuzzies” and more about treating people right. Love is a choice, not a feeling, and I can choose to treat enemies with respect and care. I can choose to do good deeds to those who would harm me. It’s still not easy. We will need help from the Holy Spirit to enable us to love like Jesus loves. We won’t always get it right either. Thank God for grace! But, as we continue to seek God, God will transform our lives so that we share love.
Our American heritage teaches us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. I don’t wear boots. I don’t know what a bootstrap is, and I sure don’t know how I would pull myself up by one! I do know that scripture teaches us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. I know that following Christ makes me responsible for my neighbors-even the ones I don’t know-even the ones I don’t like! When local students are failing in school, we’re all failing. When drugs wreak havoc, it’s our community that’s lost. When we divide the Body of Christ, it is Christ who bleeds. So, at Forest Lake, we’re transforming our community through: University Place, Weekday Kids, Scouting Ministries, and so many other missions. We are turning sorrows into joy as we build community.
I hope you’ll find your place to serve as we live into our vision!