I thought about calling this “New Year…New Start”, but I really believe that the new start has already begun. It actually began over 2000 years ago, with a radical new mindset that God was a Father available to all, a God who loved us, wanted to be in relationship with us, and whose love was unconditional, free of guilt, shame, demands and abandonment. This is a love that honors our free will; we can accept it or not from a God who will not manipulate or control us to get our acceptance. It is a safe love. No wonder the new church accepted this with an almost fanatical passion! This was a love available to all ethnic groups, genders and economic brackets. You don’t have to agree with God to be loved by Him, but it is impossible to accept His love and follow Jesus without agreeing with who He is. How do you follow someone without agreeing with them? To do that involves denial, domination, deception and a host of other unhealthy dynamics. And that’s just not who Jesus is. He wants us to know who He is, who His Father is, and then decide if we will let Him be Lord of our lives, or to use modern language, “to be in charge” of everything in our lives, thoughts, and hearts. He doesn’t take away our freedom, He just asks for the steering wheel. Then He provides freedom with the knowledge that we cannot lose His love and we are always free to say “no”.
The new church was so passionate about believing who Jesus was, that they jumped in with both feet. They followed Jesus and held nothing back. They sold everything they had to make sure none of them were without what they needed.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45
They met together, corporately, each contributing something when they met.
“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” 1 Cor 14:26
It was not passive; it was dynamic. No wonder they stood out as different! What group that takes care of its own is not attractive? Passionate about the nature of Jesus and their everyday access to the Father, they chose to follow Him.
Fast forward to 2021, and I still see passion, and a fervent call to leave passivity and the familiar behind. The activity of the Body of Christ is not a spectator sport, and it is not limited to a building or event. It is a dynamic growing entity infused by God’s presence, whether in the workplace, the home, over dinner, or where any group of believers meet. Where God’s presence reigns, there is no fear, or domination but there is unconditional love offered independent of agreement, independent of your performance. There is a freedom to say no and to still be loved, and there is a light burden for those who say “yes”.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mat 11:29-30
For we are not building our church, but He is building His church. And there is a recognition that we are not a building, we are not an event, we are a body of believers making up the Body of Christ.
Is this easy? No, it's actually impossible without God. And since we are far from perfect, we make mistakes, so forgiveness and humility are key. The forgiveness He constantly shows us has to be constantly extended to others, something we cannot do unless we allow Him access to our lives, hearts, and minds.
It’s a dynamic thing really, to grow while fully following God, then fall flat, let Him restore you, then grow again. There is no room for fear or passivity in growth. It is full of creativity, excitement, and change. As we start our new year, I encourage you to return to your Bible, immerse yourself in the culture of the biblical Body of Christ, and risk throwing everything into God. It is radical, it is for everyone, it is creative, and it is without fear because you cannot lose the love offered.