I’m reflecting on what it means to be a Kingdom people when our world is in a mess. When everything seems to be going well, it is easy to breeze through typical rhythms of church life: go to a weekly worship service with family and friends, show up at a weekly home group, go through daily rhythms of prayer and Bible reading. But life is typically turbulent. It refuses to allow us long periods of peace and tranquility. Sin and the reality of malevolent spiritual beings actively opposing God and opposing us ensure that our lives cannot remain quiet and settled. In fact, the fullness of Kingdom life doesn’t consist of a smooth-running pattern of attending church services and home groups. Kingdom life is so much more than this. There are two general ways that our lives often feel like they are a bit tilted and messy. First, Kingdom life is messy and dirty because we are missionally involved in bringing the blessings of the Jesus-life to people who are hurting, suffering, and in despair. This week when we helped move a Syrian refugee family I was introduced to another Syrian refugee family of six from Aleppo who came to the US six months ago. The parents have four children ages 17, 14, 12, and 7. The twelve-year-old was a healthy boy until he was shot in the head by a sniper, permanently disabling him. They don’t know English and so are learning. They need jobs because social services doesn’t provide enough money for all their expenses. They are victims of violence in Syria and have lost everything, yet they fear that with recent government policies they may be expelled from the country. They are in a difficult situation. This haunts me. It causes my life to be a bit messy as I think about them and many others around me who struggle in a variety of life diminishing ways. A second way life gets upended and messy is because of challenges that confront us directly. We might lose a job, get hit with astronomical medical or dental bills that insurance doesn’t cover, family relationships may be breaking down and whatever we say or do causes the relationships to get worse and worse. Or maybe a boss or a work colleague is making life miserable for us. Meanwhile playing in the background is the inability of government (including both parties) to take care of critically important issues whether health, economic, refugee, or undocumented immigrant issues. These often add to the stress we feel.
It helps to keep our attention focused on a handful of key things. First, these weighty experiences are common to all and they are an important part of the Kingdom drama that we live in. We are partners with God in a cosmic conflict with evil, calling people out of darkness into God’s marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). We are participants in a cosmic drama that ends up bringing blessing to many. Secondly, we can actually be joyful in the midst of severe circumstances because the result of navigating these challenges well strengthens us and makes us much better people (James 1:2–4). Third, our communion with God through prayer is a mighty source of peace, hope, joy, and empowerment (Acts 4:31). Jesus modeled this well for us (Matt 14:23; 26:36; Mark 1:35; Luke 5:16; 18:1). The more we press into God, the more satisfied and settled our soul becomes, even in the midst of crushing challenges. Finally, the deep and genuine friendships we have developed in the church—the beautiful community of Jesus—uplift, support, and sustain us when we feel like we’re being knocked to our knees (Acts 2:44–46; Gal 6:10). Through our relationship with Jesus and with friends in the church there is a genuine hope and realistic optimism. At the end of the day we stand tall in the reality that we are partners with God in a Kingdom drama that ends with life and celebration (Rev 7:9–10; 21:2–7).
**THANK YOU for your generous giving to the Vineyard Pasadena Community and its mission to reach neighborhoods and communities in Pasadena, LA, and the world! To invest your offerings in our community securely online go to: http://vineyardpasadena.org/giving/. On the “giving page” click on the last words in the paragraph.
Events Coming Up:
- Sunday 11:00 am – 12:30 pm. Worship at PIHOP, 1403 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104. Once a month the VinPas community takes a pause from house church and gathers for worship and celebration at PIHOP. We are going through the Sermon on the Mount in a series entitled The Beautiful Community (all the sermons in this series are found on our website podcasts). This month Glen will preach on the deeply significant Lord’s Prayer Matt 6:9–15.
- Monday 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. Worship and Intercession 5428 Dewar Ave, Los Angeles 90022. This is the foundation out of which our life and ministry flows in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. Join us in seeking God’s cleansing, healing, guiding, and empowering presence.
- Tuesday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Need Prayer? Booth at ELAC (East LA College). Touch unchurched students with God’s sweet and compassionate in-breaking presence. This outreach is in partnership with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship ELAC. For details contact Glen: (323) 215-5385.
- Thursday 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm. Running Alpha on the PCC campus in partnership with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. For details contact Sam Kim: (808) 561-8688.
- Every day of the week … love on your family, your relatives, your neighbors, your fellow-students and co-workers. Do something fun with someone who doesn’t know Jesus this week! Prayer walk your neighborhood for 10 minutes at least one time this week!