On the way with Jesus
“The way with Jesus” is the overall theme of the Sunday services in February. At first, there is a call from God for us to get underway. Along the way then we constantly have to make decisions which direction we should take. Here is an overview.
Whom God chooses and when is His secret. What is not a secret, however, is that everyone has the absolute freedom to respond to this call with yes or no.
Chosen by grace… And now?
This much is clear in terms of election: when Revelation speaks of the 144,000, the number is not to be taken literally. The number (twelve times twelve thousand) is a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, the chosen people—which is a symbolic number. On the one hand, it stands for a great multitude, and on the other, for a limited number.
According to our New Apostolic understanding, these are people who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This does not, however, imply automatic salvation; it is merely an invitation that requires a determined response. The first Sunday will therefore address the question of what the future bridal congregation, or the firstlings, will look like.
Encounter, enthusiasm, setting in motion
Where an encounter with Jesus can lead we will see a week later. The basis for the second Sunday is the biblical account of the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well: Jesus asks this woman, who was an outsider, for water. She was surprised when He started a conversation with her, for normally Jews refused to have anything to do with Samaritans.
In the course of the conversation, Jesus revealed to her that He was the Messiah. The woman was so excited that she ran into town and told everyone about her encounter with Jesus. The people noticed a change in her. And it was exactly this that convinced them to go and see Him. This is an example of how our enthusiasm over our encounter with Christ can be shared with others today.
Following with all the consequences
The third Sunday is based on a call by Jesus: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9: 23). Many people came to Jesus only because they saw the solutions to their problems in Him. Only a few recognised in Him the Son of God, followed Him, and changed their lives.
Taking up the cross means following the call of God, regardless of the situation we are going through. The small word “daily” means that our consistent yes is always needed.
In accordance with God’s boundless will
The sermon on the fourth Sunday explores the question of whom God’s call applies to and what its scope is. According to our New Apostolic understanding it is the will of God that all human beings should have access to salvation: regardless of their life or their social background. And this does not stop at the border between life and death. In the beyond, too, God wants to lead souls out of the remoteness with Him.
This divine will should trigger a reaction in Christians, namely to pray for the salvation of all people. Without restrictions. Without selection. Without stipulating what we want. And our own behaviour should contribute to the extent that every person can experience the same divine love.
“What is our reaction to God’s will?” And: “How important is it to us that all people receive salvation?” These are the questions this divine service asks those who are listening.
Photo: Aaron Amat - stock.adobe.com