We’re all on a journey by Pastor Jonathan
Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
Earlier this week I completed an item on my lifetime bucket list.
I went to the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia.
Fairs are one of the things I love about fall, and since I happened to be south of the gnat line, I figured I should take advantage of the opportunity.
As I got out of my car, the smells drew me to the entrance. The whiffs of funnel cakes, bratwursts, roasted corn, fried oreos, and turkey legs made my stomach long for dinner. But before I could get to them I knew I had to stop by the ATM. I grabbed some cash, paid my $10.00 entrance fee, crossed the threshold from the real world to this fantasy land, and began exploring.
I’m a systematic guy, so I pulled out my map and began exploring the grounds clockwise. First, I went to the Georgia Grown exhibit where vendors were selling products made in the state. Next, I walked through the amusement area where I was heckled by carnies trying to get me to win a prize for my girlfriend. Then, I passed by the pig races, snake woman, and magic show so that I could go check out the livestock. Finally, I made many laps around the food vendors before settling on cajun chicken wrapped in bacon and a piece of frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate.
After exploring every nook of the fairgrounds on that beautiful fall evening, I was content with my journey.
This week in worship we’re going to be talking about journeys. Not journeys to magical places like the Georgia National Fair. Instead, we’re going to be talking about the most important journey that you’re on–the journey of spiritual growth.
As mysterious as it can sound, the journey of “spiritual growth” has a destination. This destination is being completely conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Simply put, it means loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. This is exactly what Jesus did.
You made it to that destination yet?
But by God’s grace, I’m on the way.
Really, everyone is on the way to this destination.
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley once likened this journey of spiritual growth to the exploration of a house.
Everyone begins outside of the house of God’s salvation. However, God’s prevenient grace serves (like the smells of food at the Georgia Fair) to draw us closer to the doorway. This happens through invitations to church, “God moments,” people showing us unconditional love, and more. As Methodists we believe that God is trying to draw all people to the house in hopes that they can be and live like the people He created them to be. Some people respond this grace from God. Others reject it because they don’t believe there’s anything worthwhile inside.
Those who respond to this grace one day find themselves at the entrance to the house and have to make a decision. They must decide whether to enter the house or not. In God’s house the way through the doorway is by repentance (forsaking their way of life outside of the house) and faith (trusting that God’s work through Jesus Christ offers great things inside). For some people this is a small step since they’re comfortable with the house and have been contemplating going inside for a while. For others it’s a huge leap into the unknown that happens rather quickly. Crossing through the threshold, one experiences God’s justifying grace that forgives them and welcomes them into the household of God.
Most of us tend to think the journey is over at this point.
But Wesley emphasizes that God wants us to continue the journey once we’re in the house. He wants us to live in it and discover the beauty all around.
As Wesley scholar Kevin Watson puts it:
“God’s sanctifying grace works to transform us from people who lived by ourselves in our own shacks into people who live in communion with God and our neighbors under one roof. Too often, we want to place our little toe inside God’s house, while the rest of us continues to live in the filth and squalor of our former homes.”
God wants to transform every aspect of our lives so that we think and act like Jesus. And his sanctifying grace empowers us on this journey.
So where are you on the journey?
Are you wanting to be in the house but aren’t there yet?
Have you crossed through the threshold but aren’t sure where to go from there?
Are you content and comfortable with the parts of the house you’ve explored?
Or are you ready to discover everything God has in store for you?
Join us this Sunday to hear stories from people on the journey and to learn how you can take the next steps.
– Pastor Jonathan