Getting our bearings.
Every once in a while it is important to stop and say: Where are we now and why are we here? I am especially reminded of that after this weekend. Thankfully travel is returning to normal . . . . face masks are optional and most folks do not wear them. Not surprisingly, that seems to make people more relaxed, personable and even more considerate. And for me, that translates into having some great conversations with random people in different settings...airplanes, taxis and airport restaurants. The question I led with this time was the same one I just asked you: Who is God to you? Put another way What do you Believe About God? The conversation that was the most fascinating was with my taxi driver. Now Boston is a place teeming with people from different countries--many, I suppose, are international students who populate her many colleges and universities. While the North End is filled with Italian restaurants, it is interesting to note that many of the people who work in them are Albanians or other Eastern Europeans. When I grabbed the cab at the airport, I thought I was getting in the car with an Italian driver heading for my North End hotel. It only took a few minutes to know I was mistaken. He actually spoke to me first and in short order I asked my question. In punctuated language, he asked, What...what you mean? God, I said - you know, God? Well can I ask What do you think about him? He looked at me, tilting the rearview mirror down to look me in the face - I don’t trust him, he said. It is like he stopped talking, like someone shut down his cellphone. You know, I grew up in Morocco... Muslim. But not anymore. Hakim proceeded to tell me why he could no longer trust in or believe the Islamic teaching of his youth. But I know there is something... he said. A God, you mean? I asked. Yes, the Universe . . . there has to be something. Oh yes, there definitely is something--your inclinations are correct. We were created as was the Universe; you do not have to look very far or very deep to realize that whatever the Source responsible for the existence of the Universe and humans has to be an Intelligent Designer... Conversation. invigorating. So where are we now, my new friend Hakim and other recent additions? Between Christmas and Easter, I wrote a series of briefings on Jesus, Not Another Like Him on the unequalled Son of God - just a little of his life up to the Resurrection, when he walked right out of the tomb. But what came next and how did we get here - at the start of Ephesians, maybe the most important of all of the writings of the apostle Paul?
Here is the connection and here is how we got here, after the miraculous Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the most important event of history. Come with me and consider you were one of his disciples... Perhaps you could picture yourself as Thomas1 who the resurrected Lord invited to touch his wounded side to be assured that Jesus truly was a risen Messiah! Aye, forty days the Lord was with his followers and friends2 before he ascended back into Heaven3. Ten days after that, the Holy Spirit who Jesus had promised4 came to fill believers for the first time, changing everything from that day forward. The followers of ‘The Way’5 met together often and regularly, listening to the apostles’ teaching, eating together and praying for one another.6 Their shared love of Jesus Christ and for one another was contagious, and their number grew. The Jewish leaders didn’t like what they saw, nor did the heavy hand of Rome, so persecution was intense, (like it is in Muslim countries today for Christians). One such ‘persecutor’ prosecuted these Jesus-lovers with particular fury, ‘Saul of Tarsus’ . . . that is until, Jesus stepped into his path, and turned him around 180 degrees7. Now referred to by the Greek form of his name rather than the Hebrew ‘Saul’,8 Paul became the first missionary, travelling from town to town in the Middle East and into Europe, establishing churches as he went. Then Paul wrote 13 letters to encourage, inform, correct poor behavior and provide right doctrine; these letters of which Ephesians is one, expound on the saving work of Jesus Christ. Paul was forever grateful for the love of God, demonstrated by the life and death of Jesus which had radically changed his life. Paul lived every day with gratitude that he no longer labored under the weight of religious law, trying to ‘do this’ or ‘be that’ in order to be ‘good enough’, but was set free to live and love because of the grace of Jesus. And so Paul writes, “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace." That is where we are and why we are here . . . to grow in the knowledge and life-changing confidence of this life of faith we have the opportunity to live, as so eloquently put forth in this letter to the Ephesians. How can we go into our future without the grace and peace of God made possible through our loving Lord Jesus? Reality check: we can, but only blindly. When I think back about God... it has always been him. Fully expressed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDURInx_GUk I pray you feel his great love today, Christine p.s. if you do not have a Bible, I will happily send you one - just hit ‘reply’ and let me know. Scripture references: 1- John 20.27 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+20.27&version=NIV 2- Acts 1.3 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+1.3&version=NIV 3- Acts 1.9 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+1.9&version=NIV 4- John 14.16 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+14.16&version=NIV 5- Acts 9.2 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9.2&version=NIV 6- Acts 2.42 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+2.42&version=NIV 7- Acts 9 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9&version=NIV 8- Acts 13.9 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+13.9&version=NIV