John begins his Gospel with a loud declaration that Jesus is God, was with God in the beginning, and if we want to see and know God, you have to take a good long hard look at Jesus. Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus makes seven statements about himself. He begins each statement with “I AM,” echoing God’s name in Exodus 3. This week, we will be in John 6 where Jesus says, “I AM the bread of life. Anyone who comes to me will never be hungry” (v35).
We’re going to take a break in our Sermon series of “5 Ways of Loving God” to talk about Jesus. From now till the first week of September, we will be in the Gospel of John focusing on the “I AM” statements of Jesus. I want to bookend this series with two sermons about truth. In the Prolog of John’s Gospel (1:14), “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…full of grace and truth.” Jesus’ time in front of Pilate ends with a discussion on who Jesus is and where he is from. Pilate, in 18:38, responds to Jesus’ claims on truth with, “What is truth?” At the bottom of this post, I’ve provided the schedule for what we will be talking about each week. I encourage you to spend time with these texts, listening to what God might be telling you.
This week, I want to look at Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi to see what Paul says about what it takes to overcome differences within a congregation. One thing we all know about being in relationships is that conflict will arise. There are a few different approaches to reading Philippians. The approach that makes the most sense to me, for what Paul is addressing in his letter, is some kind of conflict between two leaders in the Christian community in Philippi.
In our series on the five ways of loving God, we’re looking at how we connect with God through relationships. When the Church started at Pentecost, thousands were baptized and the immediately developed a new kind of community. Everyone had everything in common, they shared their stuff, and dedicated themselves to the Apostles’ teachings, the Lord’s Supper as a meal together, and to prayer. Luke paints a picture of what the church is supposed to look like in Acts 2:42-47. The rest of the New Testament letters are more or less written to help these new communities figure out how to have relationships together.
If you were to ask Peter, John, or Paul about their “personal walk with Jesus,” they would start telling you about the church, living in community with others, walking alongside people that they would not have chosen to walk with, and how the power of the Holy Spirit brings all people together as one people through Jesus Christ. While they would have elements of their personal lives that help them develop spiritually as an individual, they would have seen these practices as means to developing lifegiving relationships with those in the Christian community. Take a moment to think about this view of Christian spirituality as you read Ephesians 2.
Bro. Donald will be bringing a word from Psalm 133 and Ephesians 4:10-15 in his sermon, “Dwelling in Unity.” Take time to read these passages and rest in them. Use the scripture as a lens to examine Queen City but then use it as a mirror to examine your own life within our community of faith at QCC. It is easy to read scripture with “other people” in mind and walk away unchanged by the encounter you just had with God. Allow yourself to be present to the text so that you will walk away changed by your encounter with the words of God.
As we look to be a community of believers together, a family, God’s people, the Body of Christ, etc. we are reading the Bible together so that we align ourselves together with the same narrative and covenant. This last Sunday, we looked at the first two instances where the Bible records the Bible being written. The first is found in Exodus 17:8-16 and the second in Exodus 24:1-8. The first story is the recording of an event, a narrative, demonstrating God’s redemptive love coming to the aid of those who are abused and oppressed. The second story is of God’s covenant with the Jews and their response to do everything he has said. It is the recording of the vows from their wedding ceremony. We’ve seen how God acts and the marriage with his people.
With this image of Jesus as rabbi in mind, we are encouraging everyone at QCC to read through Mark 8-10 over the next few weeks. Listen to Jesus. Ask hard questions of the text. Allow the text to ask hard questions of you. We want to read through this as a Family, as fellow followers, and hear what God is calling us to.