What lesson do you take from this?
“Thank you for being there! I have no idea what is going to happen in the future, but I do know one thing: God is faithful! He will be with us. Do not fear.” It was with these words that the Chief Apostle concluded a remarkable divine service in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This divine service will be particularly unforgettable for the New Apostolic Church USA, as the Church leader ordained four new Apostles for the Regional Church of the USA, namely: Mark Fuerbach, Lonnie Klein, John Schnabel, and Brett Streinbrueck. Unfortunately, the divine service fellowship was only able to reach the USA by livestream. The visit that had been planned by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in the middle of December had to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So it was that not one, but two, large Regional Churches were able to benefit from the divine service on 9 January 2022: Canada and the USA.
“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1: 3). As already announced in the annual motto for 2022, it is all about fellowship in Christ. No one is forgotten by God: “I want to address this message especially to those who are going through hardships and afflictions. Many of our brothers and sisters have to live with sickness. Others are in mourning. Others have to deal with problems at work, in their family, or in their matrimony. Others have financial issues. No one is forgotten by God. He knows your thoughts. He knows your problems. He shares your pain. Trust Him. He will help!”
However, the Chief Apostle also addressed a special thought to those who are happy: “I would also like to address this same message to those who experience many beautiful things. Maybe they feel quite ashamed that they have no problems. But do not be ashamed about that! Jesus shares your joy! Even in this difficult, very unusual period, nothing has changed for us when it comes to our priority: we want to be prepared for the return of Christ. That is why we are here today. That is the meaning of the Christian faith. True Christians have this strong desire to have eternal fellowship with Christ. Otherwise Christ would have died for nothing.”
What the Apostles saw and heard
“The Bible passage explains the task of the Apostle ministry,” said the Chief Apostle in his sermon. He went on to present five key messages that the Apostles received from Jesus Christ:
- “Jesus Christ is the centre of Holy Scripture. The Old Testament must be interpreted on the basis of Jesus Christ. Statements from the Old Testament are critical to our salvation only insofar as they are in harmony with the gospel.”
- “Jesus Christ did not come to punish the sinners—quite the contrary: He came in order to save them. Even His disciples misunderstood this at first. No one can claim to have been sent by Christ in order to punish or kill. Naturally, a society must have certain laws and see to their enforcement, if necessary by punishing the culprits. But it can never do so in the name of Jesus Christ.”
- “The kingdom of Jesus is not of this world. He did not come in order to exercise earthly power. Rather, His message focused on the law of love for God and one’s neighbour. It was not His objective to solve all of mankind’s problems, nor to teach humanity how to solve them. There is only one Redeemer: Jesus Christ. The way He wants to solve our problem is to deliver us from the evil one. The Lord wants to save mankind by granting them access to fellowship with God in the new creation, where there will be no more evil or suffering or death.”
- “The Son of God came to this earth and became true man. He left the glory of God in order to live and die as all human beings do. As true man, He overcame sin and death. He is prepared to share His victory with those who believe in Him and trust in Him. And He knows that we will never manage this on our own as human beings. That is why He tells us: ‘That does not matter. I have brought the sacrifice for you. You can share in my merit. There is only one thing you need to do: you must believe in Me. You must trust in Me. In order to be together with Me for all eternity, you must already today have fellowship with Me.’”
- “In order to have fellowship with Christ and attain eternal life, we must be born again out of water and the Spirit, but we must also eat the body of Christ and drink His blood. This is not an invention of the New Apostolic Church. If you want to have eternal life, you have to receive the sacraments.”
“These points,” said Chief Apostle Schneider, “comprise a brief summary of the Apostles’ doctrine.” Now it is also important for us to draw our own lessons from it. This,” said the Chief Apostle, “is a great concern in my heart.”
Cultivating fellowship with one another. “Fellowship with God is inseparably linked to fellowship with one another, with the believers among one another.” It does not suffice to have fellowship with God alone. “You cannot love God if you do not also love one another.” Those who want to be united with Christ must also be united in Christ! This was also something the Apostles learned from Jesus: ‘Whatever you do to any of My own, you do it to Me!”
Getting out of our comfort zone. “If we want to become like Him, then we will also have a feeling for the condition of our neighbour,” emphasised the Church leader. “If we see that our neighbour is suffering or that he is in need of something, then let us be ready to leave our comfort zone to help him. It is not that comfortable. It is easier to ignore a person who is suffering. At times it appears that suffering must be contagious, because as soon as someone is unhappy, everyone else makes great detours to avoid him. But suffering is not contagious! Let us leave our comfort zone to come close to our neighbour and share his pain and suffering, and to comfort him and help him. After all, the great prayer of Jesus for His own was, ‘Father let them be one as you and I are one!’” This also applies today: “Through the Apostle ministry, we receive everything we need in order to have fellowship with God and with one another, in order to become one with God and to become one with one another. I am so thankful that we have one doctrine in the New Apostolic Church. We have one faith, one creed, one Catechism. I tell you: wherever the Holy Spirit is really at work, He works toward unity.”
Emphasising commonalities rather than differences. In our time, everyone focuses on the differences. “Sometimes it seems to me that people increasingly even cultivate their differences to show: ‘No, I am not like you. You have to respect me. I am different.’ That is certainly in order, we have to accept the otherness of our neighbour. There is no question about that. But it should not be our goal to underline and insist on our differences. We are one bread. We are one body. Let us insist on what we have in common together in Christ. Let us insist on what we have in common! It is not important that we are different. What is important is that the solution is the same for all of us. The path we must follow is the same for all of us.”