We’re not going back.
It’s a scary thought. But history tells us there are times of deep disruption when the future really will not look like the past.
There have been few times in anybody’s memory where a global pandemic, massive economic disruption, rapid technological advances, and social, economic and political upheaval have converged in such a short span of time.
We may not like it. But the world that lies ahead will be significantly altered.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that he is the same—yesterday, today and forever. We’re assured that God is on his throne, and that nothing can stop the inevitable advancement of his coming Kingdom.
But times like this are opportunities to grieve and discard whatever we’ve been clinging to that’s not essential for our relationship with God and the pursuit of God’s mission in the world.
I encourage you to reflect on this: What’s essential for a follower of Christ and for his Church in times like this?
I grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. I was raised in a thriving church and a stable, supportive community. It was a world that always seemed as if it were a few steps away from Heaven.
So for me, at least, it’s unnerving to learn that the world’s attention is now focused on my home area and home state because of all our racial, cultural and economic disparity and conflict—both in the Twin Cities and in places like Rochester and elsewhere in Greater Minnesota.
Like many of you, my foundations are being shaken.
But maybe that’s a good thing.
Maybe my identity needs to be grounded more in Christ and his Kingdom, and less on my Minnesota, Scandinavian, and Covenant heritage. Maybe my identity should be less anchored in the schools I went to, the towns and neighborhoods I’ve lived in, and my comfortable middle-class ways, and more on Jesus and his mission to bring God’s radical transformation and reconciliation to my neighbors, community and world. And maybe I need to listen less to the voices that keep yearning to return to The Way Things Were, and listen more to the voices of those who’ve been harmed by The Way Things Were—and who long for a world where every person is seen and loved as God sees and loves them.
As we continue exploring “The Art of Neighboring” this month, we’ll keep encouraging you listen to and befriend those who live next door or across the street. And we’ll keep encouraging each other to re-think who else we need to befriend and neighbor—like those unable to rent or buy a house in our neighborhoods, or those who seem so very “other,” with different life stories or experiences than you’ve had.
Each Sunday we’re going to stick to the Bible in our online messages and Sunday evening gatherings and new summertime small groups. We’re going to stick close to Jesus, because we need to see what Jesus does because of who Jesus is. We’re going to stick closer to those who’ve lived different life experiences than we have—and really listen to them—because their stories can transform us. And we want to stick close to the Gospel—because it is God and his Good News that alone can all wrongs right, and can unify and reconcile hurting and damaged people to God and to each other.
And beyond that, I hope you’ll challenge me and others to go deep and go long as we pray and discern and speak and serve in ways that bring lasting and Christ-centered transformation in our community, region, nation, and world.
--Steve Eng, lead pastor