"I will be with you..."

In the past I have often used my newsletter article for February to write about the cold or to focus on the issue of love. Yes, once again this year as I write it is bitter cold! We are expecting single-digit temperatures again tonight and tomorrow morning with below zero wind chills.

And though I am concerned about the welfare of people when we experience conditions such as those outside this week, I am more concerned about spiritual matters. I want people to know that they are welcome at First Christian Church for a respite from the bitter temperatures if needed. However, I am more concerned that we become known for our “warmth of feeling.”

One of my devotionals for this morning pointed me back to the closing sentences of Matthew, where Jesus says, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). One of my emphases—you have often heard over the past year—is the importance of context! The context of this promise is not just a universal assurance of immanence (the closeness of God). It is contextually linked to the Great Commission!

What if we think of the link between the promise and the commission to be that, yes, there is a general understanding that Jesus will be with us as we obey the Great Commission, AND a promise that he is going to continue to be with us… a part of our proclamation to those we are discipling is that of our experience of the continuing presence of Jesus in our daily lives.

What better message do we have as we share the good news than that we have experienced the saving and transforming power that we are sharing? It is not just an objective message about truth; we proclaim a personal relationship to the risen Jesus himself. We are not merely dispassionate messengers to certain events; we are disciples committed to making other disciples.

D.A. Carson, in For the Love of God, states it like this: “Because we know him and his transforming presence in our own lives, we evangelize, baptize, instruct, disciple—and know him all the better, and experience even more of his transforming presence in our own lives. His promise to be with us to the end of the age is thus the matrix out of which we obey the Great Commission, simultaneously the ground and the goal, the basis and the reward.”

This year, during the month of February, let’s pray each day—at specific times—for people who do not have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ! Then, let’s take every opportunity that comes our way to share with those same people – meeting whatever physical/material needs they might have. And, of utmost importance, let’s find ways to add to our prayers and our giving, opportunities to witness about God’s redeeming love!

Not a bad plan, is it? We could do it “for the love of God.” See you soon? I hope so!