Our Family on the Hill
Yesterday our church family, Bethel Hill Baptist Church in Roxboro, NC, enjoyed a meal together after the Sunday morning meeting as a fundraiser for our benevolence fund. It got me to thinking.
Today, most denominations (including my own) are undergoing a sea of change. Jesus is threatening the status quo. He is rocking our cozy little boats. As I read the Christian blogosphere, it is obvious that this phenomenon has captured our hearts and minds. We want to examine it, analyze it, understand it. But God asks us to enter the kingdom, not simply study it. Sometimes I think that all our debates about the future of our denomination lure us away from the simple teachings of Jesus. Talking becomes an excuse for shrugging off the claims of the Gospel in our lives.
The genius of the Gospel is that it transcends social and denominational loyalties. It calls different kinds of people together under a common Lord. In this kingdom, the externals donít matter very much. In the kingdom-mindset, the communion table in a church sanctuary is no closer to Godís heart than the rest room, the Calvinist no closer than the Arminian. The hallmark of Jesusí revolutionary teaching was His insistence that things should always be subservient to the assembly of believers, whose modus operandi is to be towel-and-basin service.
I say all this because yesterday at church I saw Godís kingdom, Godís power, and Godís glory. I saw it in an assembly of run-of-the-mill Virginians and North Carolinians whose pledge of allegiance is to a new and already-present kingdom that transcends all earthly allegiances. To be sure, it is a very imperfect family (after all, I am a part of it), but it is one in which we have all tasted Godís amazing grace. At the Hill I see a people generously opening their pocketbooks as well as their hearts, liberally forgiving, showing genuine compassion for the poor, refusing to take religious structures too seriously, flattening the hierarchies, vibrantly teaching one another the Word of God, and taking the Great News of the Gospel to the ends of the earth Ė in short, behaving like the brothers and sisters and radical Jesus-followers they are.
This is, I am humbled to say, my family. It brings me nothing but joy to serve the Lord within this family and to try to reciprocate the incredible cross-care they have shown to me and mine.
Thank you, Bethel Hill. Becky and I truly love you.
April 20, 2009
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.