Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2
(Note: It appears that the theme of “Christian Community” is emerging over this week. Not my plan, but it’s how the Spirit seems to be leading my writing….)
I’ve written before about existing in this little bubble of hospital, and surgery and recovery, while all around us the world is moving on after this contentious, fractious election. I see reacting, rejoicing, raging, rationalizing, and resignation. Responses run the gamut, and here we are, still at home trying to recover, with Rebekah so very anxious to get back to work.
The word from the surgeon is that all is normal, that healing will continue, and that our job is to simply hang in there and be patient. But the patient is not so patient, and – frankly – we’re weary of this bubble.
Yesterday Rebekah hosted a small staff meeting here at home, and it was wonderful to see her light up with energy and passion for her work. Of course she crashed and burned badly after they left, but that glimpse into our church’s dynamic life, and wide open future, served as a strong reminder that God has specific plans and purpose for these next few years, plans that absolutely include Rebekah, her singular passion, and her energizing leadership.
There is a direct tie-in, I believe, between what’s going on in America as a whole, and our calling to live as disciples in the context of our church home. Because our calling to be disciples is also a calling to be life and hope, salt and light, encouragement and promise, flavor and redemption in the middle of it all – witnesses to what is possible because we carry the message of reconciliation.
The reason we have been called into being as a church (any of us, in any church, in any location) is to shine:
- To demonstrate to the world what reconciliation looks like – not to model divisiveness and schism;
- To encourage one another to be the presence of Christ in this world – not to shout judgment and condemnation;
- And to be a wide-open door to the kingdom – not to stand as guards at the gate.
My friend so-and-so is a good man, he voted for Donald Trump; my friend what’s-his-name is a good man too, he voted for Hillary Clinton; as for me – a struggling disciple, I voted my conscience. What we have in common, all three of us, is the need for grace and mercy, to grow closer to God, and to walk more deliberately with Jesus.
Day by day
Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven:
So what does all this have to do with living in this bubble of recovery, watching the world continue to rage, and being anxious to re-enter the fray? Well it has everything to do with it, because what Rebekah and her staff are doing in planning for the immediate future, and visioning over the next few months and years, is what The Church writ large calls, The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World.
This is our goal as the people of God, and it transcends any political affiliation, or social-cultural preference. This is what it looks like to live together as God’s people! This is what community looks like! This is why Jesus gave absolutely everything and help nothing back! This is what counts!
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.