trans·for·ma·tion – tran(t)sfərˈmāSH(ə)n
noun. “A dramatic change or metamorphosis”
On Sunday morning we saw the complete transformation that faith in Jesus Christ brought to the life of the Apostle Paul. After an encounter with Jesus Christ, Paul’s life changed. And it wasn’t just his doctrine, it wasn’t just his faith, it wasn’t just his prayer life that changed when he came to know Jesus. The way Paul lived his life changed because of the event of the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul had previously been someone who was intensely concerned with the Law of God and justifying himself through obedience. After he met Jesus, Paul came to understand the grace of God and began obeying Jesus, not to earn his worth before God, but out of love for what God has done for him. And, as we saw on Sunday as we studied Acts 20:32-36, Paul also began to trust in what Jesus says when it comes to the way that Paul views his stuff. (If you missed the message on Sunday morning, you can listen to it here).
In his farewell address to the leaders of the church in Ephesus, Paul impressed upon his friends two ideas: “Believe the Gospel and live radically generous lives.” This is not a subject change. He is not saying, “I want you to believe the Gospel and, on a whole other topic, remember to live radically generous lives.” Paul is reminding Jesus followers that to believe the Gospel is to live radically generous lives. Giving is what we do as Jesus followers.
During worship on Sunday morning we brought forward our 2019 financial commitments to the ministry of the Gospel at First Pres. I love the Sunday every year where we make financial commitments to ministry. One of the reasons I love it is that giving is simply a part of what it means to be the church. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, we are being the church. We are remembering and declaring that we are sinners saved by grace, and united together by that grace. That is the Gospel message. When we receive new members into the congregation, we are being the church. We are declaring that the Gospel is for everyone; not just for us, but that Jesus lived and died and was raised from the dead for all people. And in order to be the church, the church must be concerned with those who are not yet a part of the church. When we confess our faith in worship through the Apostles’ Creed, we are declaring, “this is what it means to be the church,” it is to believe and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the same is true when we give; when we live radically generous lives, we are embodying what it means to be the church and respond to the good news of Jesus death and resurrection for us.
If you did not have the chance on Sunday to represent your commitment to generosity through a 2019 Commitment Card, please bring a card with you to worship on an upcoming Sunday and place it in the offering plate. The commitment of the congregation to be a people who are together living out our faith through generosity will be expanded by your participation.
Grateful for the opportunity to be the church along with you!