Do you ever wonder if the LORD still uses your church to make a difference? The worshipping, serving, giving, praying, bearing with people/things that aren't the way YOU would have them be, etc? I do. And then I hear a story, of God doing his work calling people into relationship with him, growing them more like Jesus, using his people called The Church. And this particular story today cheers me on toward boldness in our calling to be a new kind of Christian for a new kind of time in history.
The New Testament has two primary images for the Church: The Body of Christ and The Bride of Christ. So as the Body of Christ, there is a mystical and literal way in which Jesus touches, loves, saves, grows people through the church. As the Bride of Christ, the church is a gathered fellowship of those blushing with joy at engagement to Him by faith, celebrating with anticipation the coming relational and cosmic consummation of love via the coming Wedding Feast of the new heavens and new earth after Jesus' return, the judgment, and renewal of all things.
But as someone close to me once said, 'The Bride, she's beautiful, but she can also be a b*&ch.' Thank goodness Jesus promised "I will build MY church." Our elders don't strive to lead the perfect church, but we do strive to keep it Jesus' church and not ours, so we can then trust his promise. And we persevere in loving whom Jesus loves - his bride, the church, the blessed community (not just me as the hyper-individualistic westerner who celebrates 'jesus loves me' all by myself, or just me and my nuclear family).
So here's the story today, of a family who've become dear to many at Lake Forest and are moving (sigh). But they took the time to thank the elders and staff for all the ways they've grown in their faith through our community. I want to pass this along because 1. you who serve at LFC deserve this thanks and encouragement. 2. The Bride of Christ is beautiful even in imperfection when seen through teachable, humble eyes like this family. 3. I couldn't say any better than they have the kind of follower of Jesus I aspire to see formed through our Body and Bride of Christ. I have printed this letter, and it will be in my journal while I'm on sabbatical, as antidote to moments of doubt or discouragement about the calling to give our lives, together, to God's great purposes in this world through the fellowship and mission of the church. Thanks for writing this, Magees:
Dear Lake Forest Pastors and Staff,
It is with a happy/sad heart we say goodbye to our Lake Forest Church home to
move to Erie, PA for a job opportunity and to be closer to our families in
June. When we first started going to LFC we were just an engaged couple looking
for a church home. In the 4 years since we have been members we've gotten
married and had two sons, Graysen 2 years old and Gavin, 6 months old.
In every area of our life from finances (we took the FPU class with Dave
Ramsey), to parenting (Parenting on Purpose class), and spiritual disciplines
and learning to be in community with others through community groups, and
serving, LFC has enriched our lives and helped us grow. We frequently invite
friends to join us because we are so excited by the message and the community
of our church.
You have opened our eyes to a whole new way of being a Christian. One that is
not centered on acting, looking or talking the "right" way but centered on LOVE. How glorious! How freeing! We also learned that church is not about consumerism. You get out of it what you put into and we are no longer content to sit in the pew and selfishly take in all that is given, without giving back.
Some of Mike's sermons over the past few years caused fundamental paradigm shifts
in the way that I perceived God and salvation. A couple messages that live in
my heart are:
- God made us stewards of this Earth and are therefore
called to take of it
- Even everyday ordinary acts of life like eating a good
meal, watching tv, hiking, surfing, "eating cheetos", listening
to a great song, enjoying a book,and CELEBRATING is an act of worship to
the One who made us.
- Heaven will be the second Earth - we won't be floating
around on clouds playing harps (in a way I really thought that was true).THANK
YOU for this new view of heaven.
- Nature is God's second book of Life and evidence of the
- We are called to LOVE the sinners, heathens,
uncelebrated, poor, weak, suffering
- Sex is like duct tape. Can't wait to use that analogy
on my boys as a case for abstinence when they are older.
- Revelation - Last year I FINALLY heard an explanation
of this book that made sense to me
- Just because some traditions of Christians are old,
doesn't make them bad. (ie: Lent, stations of the cross, Ash Wednesday) Love
being an ancient-future church.
We will find the right church for God to grow us in our next phase of life. Think about the God stories you hear like ours, and multiply that by the tenth degree and be encouraged. We will pray for you and keep tabs on you through FB and we will be sure to watch you preach it online.
Much, much LOVE, The Magee Family: Doug, Angela, Graysen and Gavin