Dear Flock and Friends of Knollwood,
As we look forward to March, I am both grateful for a productive February but also ready to move forward. Our 2014 Missions Conference, coupled with our new year for Faith-Promise Giving toward Missions was apparently exactly what we needed. The feedback I have received from many of you has been so encouraging and motivating! Thank you to our Missions Ministry Team and those of you who hosted our visiting missionaries or Richard Wiman our main speaker. We also were so encouraged to receive new members this past month, as you can read about within the pages of this month’s Branch.
This month we will begin a new Spring Preaching Series : “Striving Together in Gospel Joy: an Exposition in Philippians.” Why are we going to spend the next four months in Philippians? Simply put: I believe we have experienced in the last three years a renewal of a Joy that comes not from ourselves and our agendas but from above, from Christ Himself, which infiltrates our hearts and filters outward in our relationships. But we need to build upon that, to clarify and be mobilized!
Unfortunately, the very people who proclaim the “good” news of Christ, the “peace that surpasses understanding,” which enables us to “rejoice always,” do not always give much evidence of that Joy! Some churches can unwittingly create a whole culture of anti-Joy! Let me introduce you to some characters that make up this unfortunate cast.
Now as you roll your eyes at these cheesy characters, these are real people who don’t quite know what to do with this glaring joy-absence in their lives. There is a glob of unworthiness and hurt and joy-less-ness about them. We live in a culture of performance that tells people they are never quite good enough, and it sucks the joy away. Perhaps some of you feel this way.
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ invades into our manic-panic lives and creates a new culture, a fellowship, of Joy. The Philippian Christians have this joy, but at the same time there are temptations to look elsewhere than Christ alone, and there are signs of internal rivalry and spiritual one-ups-man-ship. In Philippians we are given a clarity on true Joy that comes from Christ alone, which we experience and unpack only as we pursue fellowship with one another and work to see Christ advanced in our world. Perhaps the heart of the letter is Phil 1:27-28: “Only live as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that … you are standing firm in one spirit, in one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by opponents” (literal translation). Consider this an invitation for encouragement and joy.
Grace and peace,