Church on Monday: When Did You Meet Jesus?
This past week, at the Mt. Laurel Campus Pastor Rick continued the Church on Monday series and started his talk with a question: when did you first meet Jesus?
For me, I met Him first, as a child, baptized as an infant then confirmed as a teenager. I had no idea who I’d met and it stayed that way until I was in my 30s. Even then, after having several encounters with God and didn’t fully appreciate what I had experienced. On Sunday, we watched a video of God speaking to a man, who had just prayed to have God come into his life and re-shape him. But, when He showed up, the man had trouble actually dealing with the fact that God needed to “chisel” away parts of him to re-shape him, bring him into alignment with His purpose. What’s so intriguing to me in that analogy is that God will not force himself on us. He will only do His work when you invite Him in. The video also goes on to point out that the chiseling can often be painful.
My experience is much like that experienced by the guy in the video. God comes and does some chiseling, then I step back, not a fan of pain. Then, I invite him back and he does some more work and the cycle repeats. Each time, I’m a little more defined, a little more of the image God has intended for me. The chiseling was made more clear to me, when I heard someone relate and account of Michelangelo being asked how he created the David statue. His answer was that he started with a block of marble and simply kept chiseling away all the parts that weren’t David. I love that depiction, especially when I apply it to God working on me and you. There’s a “David” in each of us, we just need to allow God to chisel away all the parts that aren’t.
There’s no recipe for belief. There are not a series of steps everyone needs to take that are exactly prescribed and you’ll end up believing, it’s different for everyone. In Ephesians 2:8-10 a guy named Paul wrote “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
God chisels away at us as he works on this masterpiece. It’s not a momentary event. Rather it’s a life-long process that God uses only when we allow him too–to shape us in Christ Jesus–also referred to as spiritual formation. Rick pointed out that the origin of the word masterpiece in that passage is slightly different than the meaning we associate with it today. Rather, it meant anything that is composed or constructed, artfully created by a craftsman. However, the word “created,” as used in this context, is only used when talking about God. So, combining the two, we can see that the craftsman is God. So, we’re not just any work of art, we are God’s handiwork.
God has plans for you that were put in place a long time ago. All he needs is for you to believe that to be true. There’s no one else like you. A combination of heredity, experience, gifts–all wrapped up as a unique precious work of art. Some of us may not see ourselves as that but God does. What’s more, as we come together as a community, God takes all those unique artworks uses them together into something even more beautiful, powerful and influential, strangely attractive to the world. We are, as a community, God’s masterpiece. A woven fabric or tapestry–each one of us a thread that God weaves together with other “threads” into a larger masterpiece that we call the Church.
So, Rick gave us three things to consider as the Church gathers the strands that have great importance as we work together to create the masterpiece:
1. Who am I created to BE? – God is hand-crafting each person to be part of the larger masterpiece. At Hope, we refer to that as the “process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ...”
2. What am I made to DO? – every follower of Jesus is UNIQUELY gifted as part of the body of Christ. It’s a purpose question. The rest of the statement above reads “…for the sake of others”. At Mt. Laurel, we can see that each week very plainly in setup and break-down of the space in which we worship, kids ministry, technical work, etc. We joyfully gather in an empty room and create a welcoming worship space. That work is not being done for ourselves, rather it’s for those who will come and worship.
3. Where am I do GO to do it? – the role of a community of faith is to be a mobilizing home base. We gather every week and we launch every week. The church goes out into the world on Monday into every area of culture and every part of society. Home, school, office, we bring the light of Christ into all those places.
We miss you when you’re not here. You miss out when you’re not here. In fact, we gather every week with the attitude that everyone’s not here yet, so we keep working to make a place for those of us who simply haven’t arrived.
Home Depot had a slogan at the beginning of the DIY craze: “You can do it; we can help.” If we’re going to see every nook and cranny filled with the fullness of Jesus, our responsibility is to help each other discover our BE, DO and GO. YOU can do it; the church (WE) can help.