For those of you who have been praying for Spring to arrive, congrats! The sun is getting brighter, air is getting warmer, and we're getting more and more thunderstorms (for those of you reading this on the Pacific coasts, replace that with "more and more earthquakes").
I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time on the Bradley campus this week, with "Ask Pastor Kevin Anything" nights being held in each of their small group Bible studies. It was great to interact with a broad range of kids -- from those who were raised in Christian homes, to brand new Christians, to kids who've never interacted about anything Christian before in their lives. Please keep those students in prayer as they process what we talked about and (hopefully) are drawn back to Scripture for their answers.
Oh, and I was able to invite them -- so I'll also invite you -- to our traditional Passover Seder this Saturday evening at 5:30. We will host a Jewish Christian missionary, who will walk us through the traditional Jewish Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples the night before His death, and help us to see the rich history and context of what we (far too often) over-simplify in our regular "communion" services. Since he will be presenting a Gospel message as part of the meal, it would also be an ideal time to bring non-Christian friends with you. Just let us know in the church office, if you can, so that we can plan enough food for everyone.
For that matter, I invite you to make sure that you join us for any or all of the upcoming Easter season services -- Palm Sunday this coming week, Good Friday on the 18th, and Resurrection Sunday on the 20th. Not only is that last one going to be a celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead, but it will also include a great, delicious breakfast during the Sunday School hour. Again, please come join us for this important time of worship and fellowship, and please invite a friend along with you.
This week, in our message, we continued looking at the Beatitudes in Christ's "Sermon on the Mount" by doing a bit of attitude-checking. We're told that "blessed are the merciful," and "blessed are the peacemakers" -- both of which can be deceptively complicated to work through.
For instance, we tend to think that, as Christians, we should follow the moral path and extend mercy to those who deserve it (as opposed to immoral people who refuse to extend mercy and always seek retribution). But Scripture doesn't call us to a nicer version morality (which is usually processed through cultural filters) -- it calls us to a Godly obedience. We are to extend mercy to everyone, whether they "deserve" it or not. Do you or I "deserve"God's mercy in our lives?
In the same way, we tend to either not care about ruffling feathers or to try our best to smooth over ruffled feathers, and neither of those is really the Biblical response to interactions. We need to care about those around us and how we're affecting them, but specifically, we need to seek peace out and pursue it -- not to unruffle their emotional feathers, but to generate and maintain a deep, mature, and healthy sense of God's peace between everyone, even in the midst of potential discord. We can't make everyone happy, but we can seek out and encourage everyone's joy.
In a nutshell, we need to stop thinking like the world thinks -- even a really nicer, shiny version of the world's thinking. We need to extend mercy to everyone (not just those who deserve it), to seek and create peace (insofar as it's up to us) with everyone, to be ambassadors of Heaven (not just really nice versions of people from this place) in every interaction.
We need to remember what God has done for us, and we need to "go thou and do likewise..."