“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus (Mark 12:31)
I look forward to seeing you tonight for the kickoff of our first COMMUNITY CONNECTION weekend. Dinner starts at 6:00.
The Christian gospel, rightly understood, is wholistic. (I understand the other spelling, but I’m trying to purposefully emphasize “whole.”) The gospel reaches out to people as whole people. It does not single out just spiritual or just physical needs and speak to those in isolation. The gospel loves the whole person.
The gospel good news is also cross-cultural. It transcends even the highest walls that separate people – all created in the image of God – from each other.
So our gospel outreach as First Baptist Paducah will always involve evangelism, but it will simultaneously – as we are led by the Holy Spirit – include social concern, economic development, and matters of justice (each as an expression of loving our neighbors). At some point I’ll tell you about my time in Haiti after the last major earthquake, and just how powerful was the church’s impact simply by helping to provide clean water and proper sanitation in the name of Jesus.
Like most American churches, we have a sizable distance to travel in terms of reflecting as a congregation the God-ordained beauty of an integrated gospel fellowship and witness. We pray as Jesus taught us, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven …” If we really mean that, then we should also want our local assembly to mirror the loveliness of multiple ethnicities and languages and cultures. This is the picture of the church for whom Christ died and for whom He will return!
We want to see as many people as we can impact transformed by the love of God in Jesus Christ, and then to see those people respond positively to God’s call upon their lives to share the gospel of Christ with others.
We may never be as much the resplendent tapestry of black, white, brown, yellow, rich, poor, urban, suburban, educated, uneducated, classical, and cutting-edge as we would like. But we can do our best to honor our Lord from within a gracious Christian community where reconciliation and unity are valued. “We love because He first loved us” (First John 4:19). This will not be as much a program as it will be a matter of the heart.
So please consider moving out with me into the various neighborhoods of our fine city with the open arms of Christ. The power of grace and truth (John 1:14) are unstoppable.