This past weekend was a difficult weekend for me. I sat at home with a stomach virus while you all gathered for worship on Sunday. To make matters worse, you also gathered to reflect on an important church decision about changing our Sunday morning schedule; I was unable to join you. This was the first Sunday that I can remember missing church because of sickness. It was not fun.
However, I don’t believe it was coincidence that the virus hit on Saturday afternoon. As I fought through the symptoms, you all stepped up in a variety of ways. Matt delivered the planned sermon articulately and authentically. The church leaders (the Leadership Council) communicated their discerning over the past few months regarding our Sunday morning schedule. It was fulfilling to see my efforts made complete through your efforts.
While it is always a stretch to compare our own experience to the experience of Jesus, I find a correlation to Jesus leaving the Kingdom work in the hands of his followers. Jesus knew that his work would culminate with his death and resurrection; he knew he would be leaving his friends. Jesus prayed for those he would leave behind; he also prayed for all who would hear His message in years to come; this includes you and me.
(John 17:20 NIV) My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,
Jesus then describes how all of this would work out.
(John 17:23 NIV) I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Jesus’ work extends to you and me. John tells us that Jesus is “in” us. In his first letter, John describes how Jesus’ love for us is made complete; we will talk more about this on Sunday. God’s love is complete as we love one another.
(1 John 4:12 NIV) No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Jesus is not physically with us; yet as we love one another, we complete the work of the Kingdom. He works “in” us to “complete” His work. As we consider the second action verb of our mission statement, we understand that our caring for one another is rooted in Jesus’ love for us. But it doesn’t stop there; as we care for (love) one another, we are completing the work of Jesus.
It is gratifying to know that First Baptist Church Muncie does not depend on my presence. God’s Spirit in you is what makes First Baptist Church Muncie. As each of us follows the leading of the Spirit, he does his work in us. I am looking forward to being with you this weekend; it is no fun missing out. Yet, I am thankful that God has equipped you with all you need when I am not with you.