Though you have not seen him, you love him. (1 Peter 1:8)
Today is our denomination’s International Missions Sunday. Every year on the Sunday nearest to 23rd June we remember 9 missionaries and their children who were killed in 1978 in what was then Rhodesia (you can read their story here), and we pray for our ongoing missions work throughout the world. Today we also received a special offering for church planting and prayed for church planters we know and others we don’t.
We welcomed two new members to our own church today, and I reflected on Acts 11 which introduces us to the church in Antioch, a really significant church in those early days; one which grew, had great leadership, good teaching and people who cared about their family in the rest of the world. Local church is a great thing – in fact local churches are how Jesus chooses to bless and to save the world.
So church organisation is good. I am pleased to be involved with it. But my personal highlight of the morning was when part of one of the verses I have learned this week came into my head: “Though you have not seen him you love him.” And I thanked Jesus that my greatest joy is to love him. I want to grow church because I love Jesus and want others to love him too. My prayer for our church people and myself is that we will love Jesus more. Through trials, sorrows and joys, it’s the love of Jesus that sustains us and keeps us.
After the service I talked with a young woman who had given her life to Jesus just last week. She was distressed because of some family difficulties, but it was lovely to be able to help her hand over the distress to Jesus and see her find some peace in the middle of the storm. My job is not to make the storms go away, but to help the people to find Jesus in the middle of them. My friend was able to smile in her pain, and I was able to smile as she decided she would be baptised next week.
I love Jesus and I love church.