This is your story

09 Sep 2016
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This is your story
Photo Credit: iStockphoto

A small group of believers try to work out together how to faithfully follow Jesus in their lives. Their expectations of God’s kingdom had been cruelly disappointed with the crucifixion of Jesus. They were bewildered and confused, but also sparked by a new and different kind of hope after they encountered the resurrected Jesus. But they had been left alone again, still trying to work out what it all meant, what it would mean to live as Jesus’ disciples after He was no longer with them. He said they had a mission, but they were still trying to work out what that meant, and to whom.

So together they prayed, studied the scriptures again, and began to work together in their small community of believers and gradually much further beyond it. They re-told the stories of Jesus, appreciating them anew with each re-telling. God worked with them, offering guidance at times, while at other times the direction was not so obvious. In the meantime, they set out to share what they had experienced and learned, and to act on what they knew.

The story of the early church—as it’s recorded in Acts—is less a model of a complete and all-sorted-out church and more a picture of a church growing in its faith, its understanding, its mission, and its impact. There were missteps and trials, arguments and outrages, but also sincere disciples and remarkable faithfulness. Amid it all the good news of Jesus was proclaimed and our world changed for the kingdom of God.

* * *

A small group of believers try to work out together how to faithfully follow Jesus in their lives. Their expectations of God’s kingdom had been crushingly disappointed with the non-return of Jesus—their “Great Disappointment.” They had been bewildered and confused but gradually renewed by a new understanding of their hope. They had been left alone, still trying to work out what it all meant, what it would mean to live as Jesus’ disciples after they had been so apparently wrong about Him. Perhaps they still had a mission to the world, but they had to work out what that meant, and to whom.

So together they prayed, studied the Bible again and more deeply, and began to work together in their small community of believers, and gradually much further beyond it. They re-told the stories of Jesus and re-studied the promises of the Bible, appreciating them anew with each re-telling. God worked with them, offering guidance at times, while at other times the direction was not so obvious. In the meantime, they set out to share what they had experienced and learned, and to act on what they knew.

The story of the early Adventist Church is a story of becoming. It’s a picture of a church growing in its faith, its understanding, its mission, and its impact. There were disappointments and disagreements, misunderstood beliefs and missed opportunities, but also sincere disciples and remarkable faithfulness. Because, despite and amid it all, the good news of Jesus continued to be proclaimed, and positive differences were made in our world for the kingdom of God.

* * *

A small group of believers—perhaps you and your friends, your family, or your local church—try to work out together how to faithfully follow Jesus in your lives. In our stories, there have been severe disappointments, so we should not be surprised if there continue to be times that leave us bewildered and confused, but also provide opportunities for renewing and renewed understanding of the hope we have. At times we might feel alone, like we’re trying to work out what it all means, what our mission looks like in our time and place, and how we might really make a difference for God.

So together we pray, study the Bible some more, and begin to work together in our communities of believers, and gradually beyond them. As we re-tell the stories of Jesus and of past believers in our story, we find both new reasons for hope and the reality that we have always been trying to work it out. We find God working with us, sometimes obviously, sometimes not so noticeably. And while it might not all be worked out, we can begin to share what we do understand, and act on what we do know.

This is our story, the story we are writing together, today, informed by the stories of our history. Amid the uncertainties, disappointments, and questions we might have, the constants remain: the presence and love of God with us and for us; His Word as a guide to our faith and our lives; the challenge of working out our faith together and growing in our understanding and impact; and our mission to be His witnesses and agents for His kingdom in our world.

Today, together, we write this story. 


* Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Originally published at www.adventistworld.org.
 

PUBLISHED IN ADVENTIST WORLD MAGAZINE.