By Pastor Kevin Barnhart
Spring Grove Evangelical Free
The air feels crisp as the nearing of fall begins to tease us with leaves changing, temperatures dropping, and pumpkins transforming. The world is filled with so much joy; children laughing, people gathering, weddings, babies, hope, and song.
The world is also filled with sadness, unexpected death, tragedy, questions, loss, fear, destruction, and insidious evil. In the last week our body has experienced so much of this. We have entered each other’s lives and stories with reckless abandon and the depth of my heart feels the intimacy of walking on such sacred ground. We are a community. We are in a sense family. Christianity is not a country club; it is a deep and wide call into the living breathing body and church of God the Father.
This week had been hard. Not hard like we baled 500 square bales and stacked them in the 90-degree weather kind of hard. I am talking about the heart rupturing kind of tragedy, pain, and sorrow that seeks to shroud hope standing in stark contrast to praises of joy and renewal. Therefore, when it happened as it always seems to on a Saturday night that we needed to take our dog into the vet for an emergency visit, I was worn. Long story short, everything would be fine – we would go home with some antibiotics and some pain meds. However, while I stood praising God for our good news the veterinarian took another call. The broken voice on the other end of that line knew that they would have to say goodbye to their beloved friend. Listening to her tears stirred my heart.
What does that mean to be one in Christ Jesus? What does it mean to be one body and one voice? Why should my heart terry on another’s pain, a stranger’s burden? Why should I lose a night of sleep because of the news, a stranger’s loss, another’s trials? Why should I spend over an hour in prayer for people some whom I know and love and some whom I have never even met?
One body, one heart, one mind, one flesh, and one KING.
The safest play would be to shut down and close everyone out. Hands down the simplest and easiest play. Let your heart grow cold, rigid, and unmoving that will save you rivers of tears and perhaps nights of sleep. Although I don’t know, because in the coldness the heart itself will begin to quiver and long for more. Only the hands that created your heart will ever be able to truly satisfy it.
Is your heart moved to tears by another’s sorrow, does your heart quiver at the loss of a stranger, and sing for joy at their blessings? I am not sure if you believe or if you are searching, but what I do know is that God has called all of us into HIS one body. In this calling we are commanded to live in community, to live on mission, and to LIVE FOR HIM.
Jesus sought the missing sheep, the lepers, sinners, lost, and the unlikely; He wept, wiped tears, healed, rebuked, listened, loved, walked, and breathed among all people. If Jesus is moved to pray for the night, weep for the lost, rejoice at the wedding, give sight to the blind, heal the wretched, forgive the sinner, and die on our cross; if we will claim Christ… then how could we do anything other than weep with those who are weeping, rejoice with those rejoicing, pray without ceasing, and allow our hearts to beat again as one. Jesus loved you when a stranger and He died for you before your life ever began, let that truth soak in. Before you were He loved you and He died for you. You matter to the heart of God, he sees you, loves you, weeps with you, and rejoices with you… and so do we. God is calling the body to be ONE…
Ephesians 4:4-6: “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Amen