I did not post “Songs for Sunday” last week because I – like many of you – was struggling with the idea of how quickly this new Delta variant is moving through people. I had people who are very close to me who were suffering being sick with it, and I knew what my wife and I had prayerfully decided for our family as far as gathering with God’s church during this continual wave of sickness. But I wavered and did not invite last week.
Then, I read report after report of Christians standing firm in Afghanistan despite the threats of the Taliban – actually promises to harm and likely kill if they remained and more especially if they gathered. My heart hurt for them, and I was more than a little grieved that I wavered in offering others the hope that I knew I was going to partake in, whether I posted or not.
So, this week, I would like to invite you to follow and worship Jesus. I would like to point out that He is of more value than my life. He’s more worthy than Covid is frightening. He’s more glorious than the Taliban is terrifying. And His promises are greater than the threats of either – or any other that this world can throw our way.
In Matthew 13:44-46, He shows us the surpassing worth of following Him – of being adopted into His Kingdom:
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
I want you to notice that He does not resort to fear here. He does not threaten with hell or damnation or things worthy of fear. He presents Himself and eternity with Him of greater value than things that are normally valued here on earth. He’s greater than treasure. He’s greater than jewels. Jesus is greater!
Gathering as His church is not escapism from a world that is against us; it is gathering in His Presence with the full knowledge that He is greater – and worth more – than anything this world can offer, even the dangers it can throw at us!
Paul, who himself was involved in persecuting Christians before he was saved, wrote the following words while he was imprisoned for faith in Christ and waiting to be executed in a Roman prison:
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.Philippians 3:7-11
Throughout the ages, and even across the world today, followers of Christ gather – despite risk of personal health and well-being – to worship Him because they see that same “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus”. One such example was that of Jim Elliot who was killed by the Huaorani people of Ecuador in 1956, people he was attempting to share Christ with – to whom God had called him to minister to. Before his death, he gave one of the most profound quotes about following Christ outside of Scripture:
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
He was echoing Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-25:
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Elliot left behind a wife and child who were naturally devastated. No one would have blamed them for hating the Huaorani. Had they turned away from the church and God, the world would have wrapped them in its arms and touted understanding. But, again, Christ is greater; His “surpassing worth” lifts His people from the muck and mire of the understandable to follow Him even through the devastating and frightening. His wife Elisabeth and their daughter reached out to the Huaorani – the very ones who killed Jim, and moved into their village in 1958 to share Christ with them. The gospel of Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit, and the forgiveness He helped Elisabeth gave were used of the Lord to draw those people to faith in Him. It’s nearly unfathomable – from a worldly perspective, it’s downright foolish. Let Elisabeth’s own words speak for her:
“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”
So, tomorrow, my family and I will gather with our faith family. Understand that I don’t say this in judgment of any who choose not to gather! But we will surrender to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. Do we want Covid? Absolutely not! But do we want to gather with our faith family – and in solidarity with those who gather and risk more than a virus around the world, in solidarity with those who acknowledge that there is more value in faith in Christ than fear of the Taliban and “knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9).
Today, you have a choice. You get to choose whether or not you will gather in person, whether you and yours will gather around a screen and join in with a live-stream, or if you will just abstain. Whatever you decide, know I am praying for you and love you. If I haven’t seen you in a while, know you are missed even if I am respecting of your distance.
Here are our Scriptures and songs:
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 —
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
- Holy Water —
- Jesus Messiah —
- Zephaniah 3:14-17 —
14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by his love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.
- Mighty to Save —
- Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) —
- (invitation) The Well —
We invite you to join us this Sunday at Christ Community Church in Grenada, MS!
We have Sunday School classes for all ages at 9:30a and worship – everyone is welcome – at 11:00a!
If you are concerned about social distancing or are at-risk, consider gathering with us at 10:00a for a small group Bible study in our worship center. There is plenty of room to spread out, but there is also opportunity to gather with others at the same time! No one will crowd you, and you can exit out of our side door and avoid the crowd coming in to worship after the Bible study!