Today, we remember the life and legacy of a man whose dream for our country's future inspired us and moved us, a mesmerizing dream that became etched on our collective soul. King's vision was not merely about black and white, but his dream was about the coming Kingdom of God, a day when all would be drawn together as one. King's vision compelled us to action because of his willingness to OWN his vision. His speech became more than words because he laid down his life to achieve their content. Any compelling vision with the power to transform people can be achieved only as those who champion it's cause are willing to do the same. Such is the model of Christ. John 10:11–12 describes how Jesus has loved us as our shepherd, one who "owns" the sheep. The hired hand takes off because he's only in it for himself. The good shepherd, however, "lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus then calls us to love one another as He has loved us, which means we love one another sacrificially. We OWN His vision for the church, and for those of us at FPCO, that means we live into that vision not as hired hands, but loving and caring for each other and His Bride sacrificially and generously. That's the story we live in, the story of the Kingdom – not the story of "me."
As the year turns to 2017, as we contend with more and more things that are false and phony, from photoshopped magazine covers to fake news, we crave what is real and authentic. This actually spills over into Christian faith because, let's face it, it's not that hard to fake. In this culture, you can go through the motions and learn the lingo and people will assume your faith is deep and rich when it's not. In my own life, I have found a good plumb line is my prayer life. When I am walking with God closely, when my heart is in the right place and I am living in tune with His will, my prayer life is solid. When I'm distant and worried about "me", it stinks. In Colossians 4:12, Epaphras was described as one who "wrestled in prayer" for the Colossian church so that they would be able to "stand firm, mature and be fully assured." Wow, do we ever need those three things, but we fail to pray because either we're not totally convinced it works, or we just don't care. You see, I think prayer is an act of love. Think about it . When do you pray intensely? When someone you love is in trouble. Yet Jesus says, "As I have loved you, so love one another." One of the ways we love the Church and love the community and love our city is to pray - and we pray out of love, adding to the authentic and deep expressions of our faith. Let's stop going through the motions. Let's love each other well and do more than just talk about prayer. Let's actually pray, one for another. #tryit#itworks