The people that I hung out with this past Sunday in Idaho Falls are the new creation in Christ. I am amazed at what Jesus went through for them. He died for them. He has a mission for them. They are the center of His focus in the city. I love them because Jesus has an unconditional, irreversible, unchanging love for them.
1. They taught me. I sat in a class where I learned from a Christian brother teaching the gospel from the book of Numbers. The remedy to my sin sickness is “look and live”. Other brothers and sisters in the class chimed in on the Christ-centered discussion, and I gleaned from the communal conversation on the Hebrews in their final year of wandering and their initial conquests. Those in the class strengthened my heart in God’s gospel, sovereignty, power, and plans.
2. They prayed with me. I shared burdens on my heart. They listened to my prayer requests. They joined together with me in bringing these requests to the throne room of God. Some let me know how they interceded for me during the week. I covet being in weekly prayers. Prayer rings the bells of heavens, and God works out His perfect purpose through the cries of His people.
3. They read Scripture to me. One of the brothers read forty verses on Christ raising Lazarus from the dead. I heard Jesus speak to His friends. I observed Jesus weeping. I listened to His command in bringing Lazarus back from the dead. Yesterday, a Christian father of one of the sisters in our local fellowship died at the local hospital – Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. So I think of Jesus shedding tears of sorrow at a funeral and also displaying that He is indeed the resurrection and the life. Jesus declares, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” I am reminded of this bit from Miriam Lefevre Crouse’s poem, “Three men shared death upon a hill but only one man died; a thief and God Himself – made rendezvous.”
4. They sang with me: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!” “I Am Resolved” “The Solid Rock” and “His Robes for Mine”. I had recently read N.T. Wright’s book, Simply Good News (2015). He seeks to make the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement palatable for the skeptics of Europe and America. But I would rather sing Chris Anderson’s words in “His Robes for Mine”. No embarrassment is displayed over the doctrine. We are in awe of the justice and love displayed by the Trinitarian God on our behalf.
5. They eagerly embraced God’s Word that I shared among them. The congregational hunger is this motto: Always the Word. They read and study. And they seek to be doers and not just hearers only.
6. They affectionately cared for me. I received hugs and handshakes. We don’t greet one another with a holy kiss, but we do things among each other that are quite comparable. Every week, it is like getting together as extended family. We have a common bond in Christ.
7. They gave offerings and served Christ together with me. People sacrificially give, humbly clean, passionately teach, joyfully sing, and patiently serve among one another for the glory of God. Through the ups and the downs, the joys and the hurts, the victories and losses, these brothers and sisters minister on a volunteer basis week after week and year after year. They do this for the sake of Jesus’ name. They do these things because they love God. Their faithfulness encourages me to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
There is no organization that even remotely does the job of connecting earth and heaven together for me like Christ’s Church in Idaho Falls.