I absolutely hate inefficiency. I imagine some of you do, too. Unproductive, mismanaged, and inefficient activity towards a certain goal drives me up the wall. You too?
How about when the mismanaged efforts are in our spiritual lives? Do we even notice? What is the goal we are trying to achieve anyway? I’ll speak more to this in Deeper Thoughts below…
But first… a few big events coming our way at Mt. Hope:
· LAST CHANCE to sign up for “Spiritual Power Bootcamp”--starting next week: six Thursday nights, October 12 – November 16, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the church. Join us for a powerful “deep dive” into the fullness of our inheritance in Christ and how we can practically live in spiritual victory. Registration is required, and we are asking a couple of key things from you as you participate. Click here for more info and to RSVP!
· Ladies: Put on your cowboy boots and hat and come line dancing with us on Saturday, October 14 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Lisa Zimmerli’s barn in Vienna! Bring an appetizer or dessert to share, your dancing feet, and a friend. Click here for more details and to RSVP.
· Fall Fellowship Dinner: “Stone Soup Dinner Theater” – Saturday, October 21, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. In an old European folk story called "Stone Soup," a village learns the power of building community through sharing. Because we are a family here at Mt. Hope, we want every person (including children!) to know that what matters to them matters to all of us—oftentimes shown through our talents, hobbies, and interests. So, whatever brings you joy, whatever motivates you and expresses who you are, we want to see it, hear it, or taste it! Share some food, display artwork, or hop up on stage to present a talent! Click here to email Kristie Zoller to share something visually or on stage, and click here to sign up to bring some yummy food!
· Sunday, October 29, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.: “Trunk or Treat Extravaganza” – be a part of reaching families in Ashburn with a festival of candy, games, prizes, and more! We are looking for many Mt. Hope’rs to volunteer to help run games, to show off decorated car trunks, to greet newcomers, etc. Click here to email Chris Bowen to help build this great event!
OK…that’s it today for you email-skimmers and you who think everything in life already runs perfectly seamless. BUT…
Some Deeper Thoughts…
Confession moment: I’m that guy behind you losing his brain while you drive 10 m.p.h. below the speed limit (put the phone down, folks!). I’m that irritable fellow in a large staff meeting getting twitchy as I see five more efficient ways to do what’s being discussed. I’m that cranky old codger (picture Clint Eastwood) grumpily complaining about all these new-fangled procedures that just don’t make sense. I’m the one throwing a temper tantrum when the product packaging won’t open properly, when the grocery self-check-out doesn’t read the barcode, or when the registration process for something is way too complicated.
Is any one of you like me?
For me, it’s all about efficiency, effectiveness, and common sense. What are we trying to do here, and what’s the best way to get it done?
Never mind the obvious touch of arrogance still lingering in my slowly sanctifying soul that thinks my way of getting it done is THE way to get it done. But the passion, the goal, the drive is simple: get done what we need to get done and get it done right.
I think this is why I have often struggled with religion.
There are a lot of procedures and processes in religion. We don’t call them that, of course. We think of them as morals, disciplines, traditions, or liturgies. But they are, in fact, exactly that: procedures and processes by which we are trying to accomplish the lofty goals of the spiritual life presented by Jesus.
Jesus tells us to love God and love our neighbors. Jesus tells us to serve the needy around us. Jesus tells us to have faith in God, to pray boldly, to heal the sick, to raise the dead. Jesus tells us to make disciples of all the nations, to go forth in his name, and to take authority over all the power of the evil one.
These are all incredibly lofty goals. Many of them seem wildly unattainable—or at best super-hard to attain. So, the structured religious side of Christianity has built all manner of disciplines and traditions to make us think we are taking steps towards those goals. But a quick review of the results demonstrates that they’re not really producing the outcomes described by Jesus.
Am I right, or am I drifting into my grumpy Clint Eastwood self?
We’re doing this fall teaching series at Mt. Hope called “Effective Faith.” It’s based on the life and letters of the Apostle Peter—especially where Peter tells us that God “has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
If this revelation of scripture is true, then we already have everything we need to achieve these lofty dreams Jesus has for us. So why don’t we see this more readily? Why is it so hard to live up to the ideals Jesus taught us? Why aren’t we actually accomplishing the goal?
Is it perhaps because we have the wrong procedures in mind?
The scriptures reveal that it is “God’s power” that has given us everything we need (2 Peter 1:3). It is not given to us through our procedures and processes that we have wrapped up all pretty-like in religious traditions. The scriptures reveal that it is God’s “great mercy” that has “given us new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
This transformation into the ideal life Jesus described does not come from a set of procedural behaviors. It does not come from doing spiritual things better, or more efficiently, or more effectively. This transformation comes from the power of God birthing something entirely new within us.
Perhaps we also misunderstand the goal.
In his first letter, Peter told believers that as they grow in faith, they will be “receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Did you notice the goal is not the accomplishment of some set of ideals? Rather, it is the transformation of something internal: the salvation of our souls.
Some of you may be quick to “check the box” that your eternal soul is indeed already saved—you have trusted Christ for salvation and know that your eternity is secure. Others of you may be a little vague on what this really means, so you lean back on your tentative knowledge of religious tradition and hope that you’re OK (“I was baptized [or confirmed] once, so I’m good, right?”).
This Sunday, I want us to slow down and really understand what the scriptures are revealing here. Let’s unpack together the text of 1 Peter 1:1-9 and see what God is trying to show us. Do some advance reading if you can—nose around the first chapters of both 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
Slow down and consider: is God revealing something more than just a ticket to eternal life?
I’m super-stoked to be with you all this Sunday. Sherri and I missed you greatly this last week—good Lord willing, our travels are done for the year! Let’s jump into the Word of God together!
Mt. Hope Pastor