Happy New Year! I hope this finds you refreshed and ready to jump into something new this year. We have much to look forward to at White Oak in 2023. Our focus this year will be to turn outward toward one another. Here is my hope and prayer for each one of us who calls White Oak our church home: Each of us would commit to Jesus’s mission by trusting his loving grace and intentionally reaching out to others to serve them with love in ways we are not currently doing.
I want to ask you to be praying. Pray for your ability to fall helplessly into Jesus’s loving arms and pray for your willingness to step up your intentionality in loving others.
I was at Disney World this past week. It was my first time since I was a teenager. I had fun with the family but it was a crazy place to be. I have always heard about the crowds, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. People were packed into every possible space in those parks. Wall to wall. Everywhere! There were 13 people in my family walking from place to place trying to navigate through the masses. For the first day I was exhibiting typical human behavior. I was saying “excuse me” to people when I cut them off or bumped into them. I would often pause and allow a group to pass in front of me. That seems like common courtesy. That was the first day. What I quickly learned was that I had to be aggressive when walking through the crowds. That meant to keep your eyes locked on target. Cut people off. Walk in-between families. Don’t talk. Don’t make eye-contact. Just plow through! I had to tell my kids to do that same. It was survival.
I think that’s the attitude that Jesus addresses when he knelt to wash his disciple’s feet in John 13:13-16.
13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Our nature is to preserve and serve self. Jesus turns that nature on its head and claims that God’s Kingdom has a different set of values. Others matter more.
If we are followers of Jesus, we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We are citizens of an eternal kingdom. We have no other way to operate in that kingdom other than to be intentionally serving and loving one another. There is no other set of morals, there are no list of rules, and there are no beliefs that trump this. This comes as an overflow of God’s love having been poured out for us and into us. If you have any other defining practice of Christianity in mind, you don’t have Christianity in mind at all.
In her forward to C.S. Lewi’s book, Mere Christianity, Kathleen Norris says this:
“The Christianity Lewis espouses is humane, but not easy: it asks us to recognize that the great religious struggle is not fought on a spectacular battleground, but within the ordinary human heart, when every morning we awake and feel the pressures of the day crowding in on us, and we must decide what sort of immortals we wish to be.”
As our WOCC family enters into 2023, be praying… be ready… be activated to love and serve one another with more passion and obedience. The opportunities are there. Decide what you’ll do with them.
Deciding with you,
White Oak Christian Church