"Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up." James 4:10
As the social fabric of our country slowly rips at the seams, our attention distracted by an ever-increasing need for belonging expressed through tribalism and hatred, I have marveled at the nationwide attention being given to EPC Missionary Andrew Brunson. For 27 years, he quietly and faithfully served Christ in Turkey, pastoring his church and loving the Turkish people. Two years ago, he was falsely accused of subversive activity and imprisoned. If you've spent any time reading Scripture, prisons and jails are often places where God shows up, and He certainly did in Andrew's. Finally freed last Friday, the nation was transfixed by a humble man who expressed no bitterness or hatred toward his captors, no hint of anger, but only love for God and country. Then as the nation watched, he humbled himself again and knelt before the President, laying hands on him and praying for him, his wife Norine joining in as well. It was a transcendent moment of ministry in which God brought honor and glory to Himself through the sufferings of a faithful servant. The Kingdom influence that Andrew will have in the coming years will as great as any current Christian leader – all because he was innocent, but willing to suffer for the sake of Christ.
"And He is the head of the body, the Church… so that in everything He might have the supremacy." – Colossians 1:18
I'm impatient. I hate to wait. There, I said it. I'm sure none of you can relate, but for those few who can, I'll continue. It's bad enough when we wait with a set ending (the tests results will be back Friday), but it's all the more difficult when the wait is open-ended. We have to wait not knowing when the waiting will end, and that is very much a Biblical concept. The Israelites waited 400 years in slavery and 40 years in the wilderness before God finally answered their prayers. In Acts 1, the disciples wait, as commanded by Jesus, and they knew their history. They didn't know how long it would be, yet they had one very important ingredient – and we have it too: the Ascension. They saw Christ rise before their eyes, bearing our humanity to the right hand of the Father. Thus, in our open-ended waiting, we do so in the sure and certain knowledge of Christ's rule and reign in our lives. We know how the story ends. We also wait knowing that Christ rules and reigns in the His Church. Even though the world appears increasingly harsh and cold, we serve and live as part of HIs Body, knowing that it is His Church through which He is revealing Himself to the world. We are not standing idly by, but we are busy moving into the vision for which He called us into existence. At FPCO, that is precisely where we are – looking to the future – not complacent or comfortable – but moving and growing onward, upward, forward, Godward.