The last 6 months have been extraordinary. I mean that in the most “extra-ordinary” sense possible. Coronavirus, racial injustice, violent protests, misinformation (on all sides), lockdowns, quarantines, masks, anger, frustration, sadness, and on and on and on. I’m sure I forgot many things, but that’s a list! Given the interesting upcoming election and ongoing civil unrest, it would appear to be a safe bet to state that the “extra-ordinariness” of 2020 is not set to disappear quickly. With that in mind, it is good and right for us to be reminded of who we are. Who we are individually as believers in Christ and who we are collectively as believers in Christ, must be remembered and lived out in times such as this.
So, then, who am I as a believer in Christ? I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a captive released from prison. I am one who was lost who has now been found. I am blind but who can now see. I am weak yet, made strong. I am an orphan who found my Father. I am all of the hurt and pain and fallenness that I see in the world, yet I am at peace and joyful and hopeful. It is only through God’s amazing grace, His love poured out on me through Jesus, His mercy paid to me when I deserved His anger. It is only through the hope I have in Christ that I can claim any victory in this world. Without God intervening in this fallen world and sending His perfect Son to pay the price for my sin, I would still be the lost, weak, prisoner without hope. Instead, I stand firm on the promise of God, knowing that my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior has brought me from a place of separation and loneliness into a place of comfort and peace. This is the wonderful truth of salvation presented to us by a loving and compassionate God.
If we are so wonderfully saved individually, then who are we as a collective group of believers. An individual believer is a testimony to the grace of God and a light to a lost world, a beautiful example of God’s redemption. However, no matter how lovely and beautiful an individual believer is, the gathering of believers shines brighter than any one individual ever could. No matter how special an individual is, one will never compare to the many. This is because collectively, we rise up to be the holy temple of God (Ephesians 2:21) and to be the very visible image of Jesus Christ as representing His body on earth (1 Corinthians 12). In fact, in all the descriptions we have of Heaven from the Bible, we only ever see corporate worship. We never have the image of a lonely person quietly praising God in their living room. We only see groups of angels and people boldly declaring praises to God together. This is the image we have of “church.” A group of individual believers collectively praising God, studying His Word, discussing His mysteries, living for His glory. Together. We are joined and held together in Christ (Ephesians 4:16). All of us are uniquely made with distinct backgrounds and experiences. All of us have more differences than sameness. All of us have many reasons to be divided from one another. Yet, in Christ, we are brought together inseparably. God is an amazing architect and master builder and He wisely uses each of us to bring Him the most glory when we are together.
This is why West Bend Community Church desires to be together. We desire that all may come to know the joy of the Lord through salvation in Christ. However, we also know that we are more like Christ together than we are apart. We know that we can only truly live out our vision - “Love Jesus. Love Others. Serve.” - when we are doing it together as a family of believers. Join us as our individual lights come together to be a beacon of Hope to our community and the world as we point people to Christ. I pray that 2020 may be “extra-ordinary”, but not from the realities we presently see. Rather, I pray that God uses us and that we obediently act as He saves us individually so that we may, collectively, be an “extra-ordinary” beacon of Hope in this world.