In recent days, terrorist attacks have claimed lives in Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris. The swirling news coverage of these attacks has kept the reality of evil fresh in our minds. Now comes the question of response. All of us have an opinion. All of us have a gut reaction because we fear the terror loose in this world or we want to protect that which we love from its effects. Our sense of justice rises up and we want answers. Or maybe it’s action we want.
As Jesus followers, what response do we take and what responses do we support? As United Methodist Pastor Mike Slaughter recently noted, it is easy to forget that the real enemy isn’t people. Perhaps it is easier to blame an entire religion when really it’s a small sect that has hijacked that religion for justification of their particular ideologies. Millions of Muslims stand against the violence of ISIS/ISIL. The real enemy is the spiritual force of darkness. There is a blinding spirit of sickness and a spirit of hate on earth that defies logic. A spirit of hate which accomplishes its destruction through us, human beings… (Mike Slaughter). As the apostle Paul said to the early church experiencing persecution, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but …against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13) Our response is the armor of God. But this armor is unique.
The provider of this armor was born in the Middle East in a town called Bethlehem. His name is Jesus. He is God who entered the evil of our world. And he experienced it even unto his death. But he conquered it. He commanded Peter to put the sword down. He prayed for God’s will. He stood in the face of evil and prayed for the forgiveness for those who did wrong, and then he endured the full effects of evil on the cross out of love for us all. Then he arose from the grave showing that love and light win. And the truth and righteousness of this is found in Christ at the foot of the cross.
How do we respond? The only way for us is the way of the cross. We join Christ. We become radical agents of doing and being Christ’s love (righteousness), and light (truth). This is our armor. Let us commit to standing with Christ for the defeat of evil that comes through hatred. Hate is a powerful force, but love is far more powerful. As Christ has shown; his love can even subdue forces of evil. Love will even stare fear in the eye, because love will always rise again.
Community Life: What’s Happening
The Starting Point New Members Class took place the last two Sundays. It was our first bilingual class. Participants were from the 9:30, 10:45 (Hispanic), and 11:00 worshipping communities. We have new members joining this weekend and at least two baptisms!
We are at 90% of our Catch the Vision Stewardship Goal. THANK YOU! Financial giving is a practice of faith which not only shapes us as the giver, as Christ’s people, but furthers ministry to others through the ministries of Old Bethel. If you haven’t, consider pledging any amount!
Our Christmas Outreach ministry is collecting underwear and socks for children ages 0-12 years. We will serve 600 children this year. Place your donations in the specially marked box in the lobby by December 6.
The Administrative Council meets Monday, November 23, at 7pm in Hall BC. All are welcome to attend.
Serving Christ Together,