First, a big THANK YOU to everyone who was praying for us (and all our valley churches), with last weekends 'event' concerning the Westboro protests. It turned out to be a peaceful weekend, and the Westboro folks were almost wholly ignored, which was our intent. I would say that it was a 'non-event' except for several significant things that likely would not have occurred otherwise.
The relationships between our valley churches were strengthened. Multiple times over the past two weeks various pastors and church leaders met together, called each other, and prayed together that God would be glorified through this event. Our church leadership community was able to strengthen our relationship with the local law enforcement community. I personally witnessed several 'God connections' where people were able to show much needed love and compassion to another person because they were in a place they normally would not have been. Lastly, the presence of Westboro's message of hatred gave rise to many conversations about how we, as followers of Christ, can take the initiative in creating the healthy and redemptive conversations our culture so desperately needs. To sum up this interesting episode, I'm reminded of Joseph's words to his brothers in Genesis 50- "what you intended for evil, God intended for good". I can't speak to the effect of Westboro's activities elsewhere in the country, but as for the Church in this valley, our love for each other is stronger than before they came.
It's an interesting statement, those words of Joseph. "What was intended for evil, God intended for good." In the first three and a half chapters of Romans, Paul focuses on the reality of evil and rebellion against God as the defining characteristic of the heart of mankind. By the time we arrive at verse 9 of chapter three, Paul has completely made his case and he delivers the verdict:
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one...
That doesn't sound like good news. By itself, this verdict seems to proclaim that evil has won the day. But my friends, where there seems to be only evil and the absence of hope, God has always known His intention for Amazing Good. For even though Romans 3:9-20 seems to be the worst of news, it actually is the best of news, as out of the ashes of humanities spiritual death God proclaims the stunning miracle of a New Creation. And notice this- even within the bad news of 3:9-3:20 (go ahead, read it here), there is the underlying beating heart of God's Grace that turns this verdict into Good News. This is what we will celebrate Sunday- why the bad news of mans total rebellion is actually the good news that sets the stage for God's total redemption.
If you are in town, I sincerely hope you join us! It will be a great day, and I look forward to seeing you then. Where-ever you may be in the country or world, may your weekend be blessed!
In Christ's Amazing Grace,