Every church has the choice to be this world changing expression of the body of Christ, or this inward turned religious organization that is about itself and that is more concerned about its own comfort and happiness than it is about the hurt and the pain of the world around it. Every church has a choice of what it believes to be possible or impossible about God. But on the road ahead, we believe that all things are possible. The word of God says very clearly in Luke 18:27, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."
As we begin the road ahead I want to share with you that it all begins with relationship! Jesus is not a roadmap that we use to give us some future that we approve of. He is not a crystal ball that we come near to gaze in so we can see the way we want to go. The reality is that we're not invited into a future first, we're invited into a presence. In fact, we're invited into THE presence. The presence of love, of light, of God almighty; of our Father! It's just relationship.
We can move into relationship or we can do 2016 in religion. I just want to say that I detest religion! I detest the impact that it has on human beings. I detest the deadness that it brings to the human heart. It is so diametrically opposed to the life giving relationship that Jesus wants! Religion is God on a leash! Religion is what we create in culture and in form to keep God away a bit and insulated so that we don't really have to give Him our lives. Religion is a wall, pretending to be a bridge.
We love rules; Jesus offers relationships. We want a roadmap ahead that assures us. Jesus gives a love relationship that holds our hand and walks with us. Your life can be everything God wants it to be, or it can be anything less. Your life can be as big in the Kingdom as Jesus' heart, or your life can be as small and fearful and broken as your fears will make it. It's up to you and me. We've been given a choice. All the way through life-- its ups and downs, its pains--we get to be with Jesus. And to be with Jesus, heart and soul, is the center of everything.
Jesus said that we are more than just religious followers, we are friends! In John 15:15, He said "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know His master's business, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." I have taken you from the outside and brought you to the inside of my life and my heart and plans! You can know all kind of religious things, but if you are not living in a love relationship that is from the presence of God Almighty, by the gift of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Spirit, then it's dead religion! I want you to rest in the love that invites you into relationship. -Dr. Drew Shofner