“Those of you who say you’ve tried Christianity and it doesn’t work and so you’ve walked away? I say you haven’t tried Christianity. Not the way Jesus taught. You’ve tried religion. And religion alone will always fail you. But the vibrant life of Christianity? It’s a grand adventure that awaits.”
-paraphrase Richard Dahlstrom 9/18
Yesterday at Bethany North, we received an impassioned sermon on the roots of health by pastor Richard. If you missed it, you need to listen to it (found here) as this sets the table for the next few months of sermons at Bethany titled the Roots of Health. And more than just a sermon series, this sermon sets the course for the coming year at Bethany Church at all 4 locations. The reality of the Christian faith is that we’re called to become disciples of the Christ. Remember what Jesus said in John before he left: “You, follow me!” It’s the point of the whole story of Christianity: God created us, we choose disobedience and our own paths, God sent Jesus into the world to offer a way home by living with us and eventually dying for us, so that we could follow Him, and our lives would be transformed as we serve God awaiting the future kingdom in the present reality, working here and now to bring Christ’s light and love to a world that desperately needs it.
We as a Christian church have often distilled down the faith to something that Christ did not intend to: we go to church each week thinking this is Christianity. Then the rest of our life goes unchanged. This is not the grand adventure that Christ had in mind. No as Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “when Christ calls a man (or woman) He bids him come and die.” Our old life is gone (thank God!) and our new life emerges from the ashes. The old life of materialism and empty sexual desires and need for self-importance and pride and arrogance and selfishness and anger and greed disappears. And out of our old life, emerges a new creation, who as a Christian is transformed to live different.
The problem, Richard pointed out, is that our different living often is slow to materialize, and at Bethany, though we’ve opened new campuses and built a new sanctuary and grown and had lots of exciting things going on, our roots of faith need some improvement. A survey in the spring indicated many of us are still giving far less than we should, serving far less than we should, unsure of our spiritual gifts, still waiting to tell others around us about the faith in Christ that has transformed us. In essence, a lot of us need to improve our spiritual health.
The good news, and this is truly good news, is that as a church we want to start improving this TOGETHER in the coming year. All of us…working together to learn our spiritual gifts through an online assessment tool available later this year. All of us learning more about discipleship and our giving back of our time and money. All of us learning more about sharing our faith by living passionately for Christ. All of us buying into the fact that the Christian life isn’t a series of sacrifices or deprivations…no! The Christian life is a grand adventure where God’s love so imbues us with hope and joy and love and peace that we can’t help ourselves but become agents of change in our homes, on our street, at our job, and in our community.
This is the joy of being the church. And though the Christian church has struggled and lurched and lost its way at times, it is still God’s primary tool for bringing the hope of Christ into the world. Its more than showing up on Sunday at the Spartan Gym at 10 am for worship…. but that is a great place to start. Its more than joining a community group to meet others…. but that is a great place to start. It’s more than the Union Gospel Mission sock drive which began this week… but that is a great place to start. It’s more than giving a little more, opening your bible each day this week, or praying with your spouse on the couch each night. But these are all great places to start.
Want to be part of a great adventure? Want new life in Christ that transforms you and makes you an agent of change truly impacting the world? Take a step with us at Bethany this fall. Join the adventure! We want to journey with you!