Hope for 2011

Robert has not been in church for several years and was telling me his story, “Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about God and what He wants me to do. Church is hard because I’m turned off by the legalism, all the talk about change without doing anything…”

He shared a desire to find a place that is real, to make a difference in the world, and to personally make some progress in his marriage and relationship with God.

As I pondered his words, the opposite reality of most people’s experience hit me – local church community marked by pride and pretense, self absorption and spiritual stagnancy (known by the simple “h” word).

Jesus hates hypocrisy, always did. Maybe because hypocrisy always chokes out hope…

Yes, He comes to make wrong things right. And thankfully, Jesus is merciful because every local church community is imperfect, because we are all imperfect.

I’ve seen glimpses of HOPE in recent years. We’ve made some progress but have a long way to go. Humility and love are still the twin victors over pride, pretense, self-absorption and stagnancy.

Another friend shared how his life started to change when he humbled himself and started letting Jesus deal with his stuff. That humility was in response to God’s love.

I love the way the Message Version translates Romans 2:4 God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”

That is the place where HOPE is found! …relationship with Jesus together with imperfect people, all of us experiencing God’s kindness, taken firmly by the hand and led into radical life-change!

As we walk into 2011 may we at SHV and other local church communities experience more of this kind of HOPE and LIFE! And may we be the people where guys like Robert find a place.

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