From the Pastor's Desk:
October may just be my favorite month out of the whole year. The harvest is running full speed ahead, the trees are turning beautiful colors and well it’s my birthday month. There is so much to be excited and thankful about, but if I’m honest this October is different. Yes, the harvest is going on as planned, the trees are turning those beautiful colors and the Lord willing I will celebrate a birthday, but what is heavy on my heart is the division and hate that seem to be flooding the country. We all know that even in rural Iowa we are not immune to these issues. So what do we do about it? What does God say to His church in the word? Over the next few paragraphs I will give verses for us all to commit to memory at this time. We need to hide these words in our heart, because when we get into moments where we are leading to division, anger or hatred we need to be able to resist those things and turn to the Word of God.
The bible is full of verses about love. Just so we are all on the same page, love does not mean mandatory agreement or acceptance. We are called to love even when we disagree or scripture condemns behavior of others. The first passage to look at is the “love passage” from 1 Corinthians 13. Many of us equate this with marriage, but the fact is this follows the scripture that is talking about the body of Christ being united and needing each other. Church this is how we are to treat each other as fellow believers. Verse 4-8 specifically give us the way to live with each other in love. Another passage about love that is challenging is Matthew 5:43-48. As believers we are called to be different and to show love to all people. That includes those in the church and those outside, those who are close friends and those who get under our skin. Finally, we all know the Greatest Commandment from Mark 12:29-31 about loving God with all we have and loving our neighbor as ourselves. As your hide these words in your heart find ways to live them out in difficult situations.
The bible also speaks about unity. I am not talking about everyone having the same opinions about everything. In a church there will be differing opinions on politics, the pandemic and specific mission, but what is important is to be united on the Biblically foundational things and to learn to live in peace with each other in the rest of it. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul appeals for unity and not division around theological truths. Who is the head of the church? God, not Paul or a pastor or a consistory. Who was crucified for sins? Not a mere man, but Jesus Christ the Son of God. Who holds the power in baptism? God does, not the pastor, the water or the parents. 1 Peter 3:8-16 gives us another charge to live in peace and harmony with those around us. We need not put up our walls of defense or get even with them, but live godly lives at all times. Finally, I will leave you with Romans 12:18. As far as it is up to you live in peace with everyone. We need to stop pointing fingers and start joining hands and linking elbows.
If you find yourself disconnecting from the church or others over opinions I want to encourage you to reconnect. There will always be differing opinions, but God has called us to look beyond that and extend love and peace. If you have disconnected from the church for theological or biblical reasons I want to encourage you to come talk to me. I want to be aware of these situations so that we, as a body of Christ, can become more and more the church God has created us and asked us to be. May we all love and strive for unity in the Word of God!