Friends, I pointed out last week in my sermon (which was quite the move of the Spirit!), that repetition matters in scripture. Luke captures this in Acts when he tells and then retells the story of how the Good News broke out of the grasp of a few and into the hearts of all people (Acts 10 and 11). We wrestled with how we can actively offer this same Good News to all people in our communities, on our island. I hope you were blessed. I hope you were challenged.
This coming Sunday will be our last week in our Acts series. Can you believe it?! Here's something exciting: starting soon I will be using Pastor's Perspective to communicate to you the 10-year vision of Kona Church of the Nazarene. You heard that right. If you regularly read this newsletter, you will be getting the "boardroom" perspective--in bite-size chunks--on where our church is going, how it plans to get there, and the convictions and insights that helped us discern this way forward. Though I'm ready to move forward where God desires our church to go, I think it's worth repeating that which matters most. I need your help, though.First, I will repeat the most important SIGN OF LIFE in our church community. (This is intentionally the second time you'll read this.)
Second, Please read this whole letter, reminding yourself just how priceless and powerful the gift of salvation is.
Third, forward this letter to at least one person ("fwd to a friend" button at the very bottom) who could use a reminder of the power of salvation, and encourage them to subscribe.
Fourth, pray that KCN is uninhibited in offering this salvation to the Kona Coast.
SIGNS OF LIFE: SALVATION
WE'RE SAVED! You got it. Well, maybe you have it. But, we're not off the hook that easily. Let's not just assume we're all thinking the exact same thing here. Let's talk salvation—LIFE.
When we talk about salvation, we're talking about the death that resulted in life, not the death that resulted in decay. We actually read of the antithesis of decay: resurrection. Healing resurrection! Wounds closed. Wounds healed. We're talking about the anti-decay kind of death. The Jesus-is-alive death. The resurrection to end death, to break the power of death. When we talk of the justification that was initiated on the cross, we talk of the Friday that ends not Saturday morning but Sunday--a death that ends with life. Death, dying, dead, died: these are not the final word of this story. Instead, it's life. Death in our vocabulary is a four letter word: LIFE.
We're not talking about suffering that breeds resentment; rather, we're talking about suffering love. Love that prevails; love that never fails. We're talking about the kind of love that became the very form of a slave and suffered unto death...that the chains of slavery could be broken once and for all. We're talking about the anti-slavery slavery--the slavery to end slavery. This love conquers precisely because it doesn't't set out to conquer but to obey, not the will of the Son but of the Father. This love drinks a cup of suffering that releases everyone in its wake from the pain of drinking. This suffering love is the anti-slavery, anti-suffering generosity offered solely from the one that deserved otherwise. This love is life-giving servitude! This is the love of the Son that was innocent, but became the guilty so the guilty could once again experience innocence. This love is Christ's love.
We're talking about a price that was paid not to accrue debt but to relinquish debt. Not a loan. Not a rain check. Not on sale. No holiday discounts. This was the full price of darkness that was to end darkness, free us from bondage. Our current economy operates on debt. We know debt. We, in some ways, need debt. But debt owns us. The Son freed us from having to be owned by spiritual debt, emotional depravity, physical bondage, relational abuse. The Son freed us from the debt of sin, that we might live free, un-indebted, exonerated lives of devotion. The ultimate price was the price of our freedom to worship.
When we talk about the salvation that comes when we are reborn, we're not talking about the pains of childbirth (or the numbness of childbirth, for some), but the celebration of breath, of life, of regeneration, of newness. We're talking about the radical awareness and euphoria that comes moments after delivery. Our rebirth is the rebirth into an alternative future, a different life, an abundant fate, a life everlasting! When we are reborn, we take on a new identity, a new family, a new mission, a new afterlife...a new present LIFE. When we are reborn, we are re-created, re-newed, re-directed, re-linquished from all that held us down, stigmatized us, and kept us from freedom.
The salvation we talk about is LITERALLY about offering a radical alternative to a world fixated on destruction, addicted to debt, and dominated by darkness. When we are saved, we become a people of wholeness and health, we are a people set free, we are a people of light. We are salt. Flavor. Invigoration amidst a dying, numb world. We become a people of worship and not of wastefulness. We become a people of passion and prayer and not a people of pain and prejudice. We become a people bent on blessing others and not beating the competition. We become a people fixated on the cross and obsessed with the kingdom of God; we lose interest in the kingdom of oppression, darkness, and lethargy. We work and celebrate, sleep and recreate, eat and dance in the presence of our Creator. We are new beings that have one prerogative: the will of our righteous God.
This is who we are when we are saved, and this is what we have to offer. In other words, what we have to offer is at once nothing AND everything. We have not silver and gold, but what we do have is eternal life. What we have to offer is who we are as adopted children, what we are as the Body of Christ and heirs of the kingdom. What we have to offer is a seat at the table of our Lord, where there is always room. What we have to offer is a ticket to the everlasting banquet that begins today. Again, what we have is at once nothing that can be given a price tag BUT is priceless; cannot be measured BUT is bigger than this world; is of no weight BUT liberates us from the weight of suffering and isolation. What we have to offer is nothing but ourselves as representatives and witnesses of something better, deeper, fuller, more lasting, and sweeter than what is the prevailing hopelessness in our world.
WE HAVE LIFE!
WE HAVE SALVATION!
Your partner in ministry,
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