Written by Kailynn Nelson
The church is a family. There are no only children in the house of God. Romans 8 says that we are adopted as sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ. Paul here says that “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). God is building a family. He is bringing people of all nations and all backgrounds back to Himself. Over and over in the Bible God is referred to as Father. He is the Father who runs to meet His children when they finally come home. He is the Father who knows each child intimately, and cares for them deeply. God is the Father who engages, encourages, and endures with His children because He loves them.
Heritage Fellowship is just a small portion of this family. No matter where we are in our lives or faith, we are brothers and sisters. I am often humbled and amazed at how God has sovereignly put us all together. We all have different backgrounds and stories, but we all have one thing that brings us together: our hope in Jesus Christ. This hope that we have is ultimately what drives us as a family. It is why we come together every Sunday, and it’s why we stay connected throughout the week.
The hope of this blog is to help bring us all closer together as a family and ultimately closer to God. This family of God is meant to engage, encourage, and ultimately endure together. We want to engage with God and others. We want to encourage each other. All of this is meant to help us endure to the end. I hope to assist with all three of these through this blog.
The purpose of the church, as a whole, and specifically Heritage, is to point people back to God through the work and person of Jesus Christ. Our whole point, as individual Christians, and as a whole church, is the gospel. Without the gospel as the center driving point, anything we do will be in vain. The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:15 that the church is meant to help people “grow up in every way into Him who is our head, into Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul gives instruction to the church in Corinth on how each member should exercise his specific spiritual gifts within the context of the local church body. He also presents instruction on how worship should be ordered. Paul’s instructions remind us that anything we do as a family is meant to help each other become more like Jesus.
We want our brothers and sisters to engage with God on deeper and deeper levels. We want people to know Jesus more and see Him more clearly through these blog posts. As we go through a sermon series we hope to provide some resources to help guide us through. These blogs may provide some insight into the cultural background of a certain book of the Bible or they may simply expand what we covered on a previous Sunday.
Of course, as we learn more about Jesus and His love for us, we want to share that with other people. Jesus has called each of us to bring the gospel to the people around us. God’s vision for the church extends far beyond the city of Clinton, and even the Carolinas. And in our present culture, God has given us a helpful tool to share the gospel with others. I have personally seen how God can use social media and the internet for His glory. For the last three years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to write for a website called Brave Daily. I have written numerous blog posts and book reviews for them and am often humbled by the work God is doing through that site. With just one share of an article from Brave Daily on Facebook, I can reach countless people. I often sit back and marvel at how much I am not in control of who ends up being reached by a blog post. If you have friends or family members who can’t come to our church, but you want to show them what we’re all about, or just want to share the gospel with them, we want to provide you with the resources to do that.
As I said in the opening paragraph, there are no only children in the household of God. All throughout the Bible we see how important community is to the believer. As I have already said, much of this community is about engaging with God. But this engagement was never meant to be done completely alone. Paul used the image of a body and the image of a building to show how the members of the church are meant to support each other. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talked about how each member of the body is equally important. If we were just an eye, we would have no sense of smell. If we were just an arm, the body would be no good. Throughout the rest of his letter, Paul exhorts his readers to love and support each other. They were meant to show God’s love to the world in how they loved and encouraged each other.
In Ephesians 2, Paul uses the idea of a building to show how each member of God’s family is meant to be joined to the rest. We are all built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ. Bricks that are built into a structure are meant to hold each other up. The only way this building will stand is if all the bricks are built on the same foundation.
We are meant to encourage each other with the gospel. Life is hard. Sometimes – many times – following Jesus can be hard. We all struggle and we all battle sin. For many of us, suffering seems to be waiting on every corner. That is why the encouragement of our brothers and sisters is so important. Great power comes when a group of believers gather around each other to fight whatever darkness they face. Even if the darkness lingers, just knowing that there are people supporting you can mean everything.
A huge hope and prayer for this blog is to be an encouragement for the people of Heritage. I want us as a congregation to be able to be honest about our sins and struggles. It’s easy to play the “I’m fine” Christian game. It’s easy to pretend that we are okay, even when we’re not. But God has called us to so much more than that. God calls us to share our burdens with each other. Recently, God has shown me just how powerful that can be. I tried to bear the weight of my sin and struggles on my own. I tried to fix it on my own. I convinced myself that no one else would understand what I was dealing with. God brought me to a place where I could see how badly I needed help. I opened up to my small group and found a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty and grace. I found people who had similar struggles and were willing to help me deal with mine. In that time, we all pushed each other a little closer to Jesus. Part of my hope with this blog is to bring the rest of our church into that place. I want to write honestly about my struggles, so that maybe you won’t feel alone in yours. And as you read these posts, I hope you see the awesome light of Jesus and are encouraged to keep on walking with Him. I hope that in many of these posts you will find a place to rest and the encouragement you need to keep going. I want to point you to the light and hope in Jesus every step of the way.
The church is also called to rejoice with each other and celebrate God’s work together. We hope to highlight how God is moving in our body, both as individual members and as a congregation. To do this, we want to share stories and insights from small groups and from those who are working in foster care and adoption. As you read these insights or stories, we hope you will be encouraged and will find a place to rejoice in the work God is doing through Heritage.
According to Merriam-Webster, two of the definitions of endure are: “to continue in the same state,” and “to undergo, especially without giving in.” The Greek word commonly used when talking about the endurance of Christians means “to remain, i.e abide, not recede or flee.” Over and over in the New Testament we see a call for Christians to endure. In Revelation, Jesus repeats this call to seven different churches. Paul reminds Timothy to continue to “fight the good fight of faith.” There is a sense of strength and steadfastness in this call for Christians to endure. We are meant to stay in the faith and hope we have found in Jesus. When we undergo trials or struggles, we do not give in and we do not flee. Yet this endurance is not easy. We cannot do it from our own strength and we cannot do it alone.
The author of Hebrews gives us a list of people who endured through many trials and periods of waiting on God. At the end of this list he says, “let us run, with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). While we run we look to Jesus, who is our cornerstone. The people whom the author gives us as examples of endurance all had a deep relationship with God. They all engaged with God. Their hope was rooted in Him and what He promised them. Likewise, to endure and to remain strong in our faith, we need to seek Jesus.
In this pursuit of Jesus, we don’t run alone. We are able to endure when we seek Jesus with other believers. We are called to carry each other’s burdens. We are called to encourage each other as we struggle. Personally, I have found the strength to carry on through my relationships with other Christians many times. Hearing about their victories has reminded me about the hope that I also have. Confessing a sin or a struggle to a brother or sister has helped lighten the load that I am carrying. In running with other believers, I am reminded more and more who God is and how much He cares. This is why Paul stressed the importance of truly caring for each other in 1 Corinthians. He knew the only way each individual could stand was if they were connected to each other.
The ultimate hope of this blog is to provide resources that help our members endure. I want you to be able to engage with God on a deeper level. I want to help you see Jesus more clearly and love Him more deeply. I want our whole congregation, and Clinton at large, to be encouraged by how God is working. In all of this I hope that you will find the strength to endure as you seek to follow Jesus.