Memorize & Ponder for Sunday Jan 18, 2015
A Profile of Pastor Paul – Part 3 | Testifying to the Kingdom of God
Testifying to the Kingdom of God
Acts 28:23-24 (NRSV)
After they had set a day to meet with him,
they came to him at his lodging in great numbers.
From morning until evening
he explained the matter to them,
testifying to the kingdom of God
and trying to convince them about Jesus
both from the law of Moses and from the prophets.
Some were convinced by what he had said,
while others refused to believe.
Being the Church in Christ: Wisdom from Pastor Paul
(The Brentwood Sermon Series for 2015)
Throughout 2015, the Christian community at Brentwood Presbyterian Church will be considering how to be the church in Jesus Christ, guided by the wisdom of Pastor Paul. We invite you to listen for what the Spirit is saying in the text, then question how those insights might change the ways you see things and act in the world. Share your thoughts during the week on the meaning the Spirit creates for you in this text by posting a comment on our website – www.brentwoodpc.ca.
A Provocative Pondering
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us provoke one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together … (Hebrews 10:23-25a)
How do we get people interested in the church and its mission? That question weighs down most church people that I’ve met in the last couple of decades. Numbers are declining, churches are closing, and the world just seems indifferent.
That’s one of the questions about which I think Pastor Paul might have some wisdom to share with us. He was working in cities that were largely indifferent to the Christian message. There was some hostility, especially among the Jewish leaders who rightly felt challenged by Jesus’ witness to the kingdom of God. There was also hostility from the Roman officials due to the challenge posed to the authority of the emperor when someone claimed that ‘Jesus is Lord.’ But the most common response was indifference.
There are two things worth pondering this week. First, WE don’t get people interested in the church and its mission. That is God’s work. He does it through the Holy Spirit, through what John Calvin, the founding pastor and theologian of the Presbyterian tradition within Christianity, called the ‘inner work of the Holy Spirit.’ We provide a space – physical, emotional, and intellectual – where that work can be nourished to flourish. We provide a community in which a person’s true gift and vocation can be realized and nurtured. But God does that work of generating interest.
Second, our own faith – it’s passion, purpose, and power – is a primary way in which the Holy Spirit works. We call it ‘witness’ in the Christian tradition. It’s the way we show up in the world and how our faith in Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus as Lord, shapes our hospitality, justice, and peace. People see that and the Spirit works within them to generate interest.
So, how is your faith shaping the way you show up in the world?