Good recipes for cliff-hangers
Christians are not only to talk—they are also supposed to act in Christian fashion. But how is this supposed to happen, particularly in a time when Christianity has been pushed to the margins in many places of the world? Here are some excerpts from the Sunday divine services of the New Apostolic Church in the month of September.
“Why is it that Christians are so silent anyways?” asked a missionary during an interview with a daily newspaper. For him it was clear that disciples of Christ should “shout from the rooftops” to tell everyone about the Saviour they follow. And there is certainly truth in that: Christian faith is not supposed to be a private matter—and definitely not some shameful taboo!
The Sunday divine services in the New Apostolic congregations for the month of September are captioned by the theme series “Christian life”. They focus on Bible texts which clearly express that Christian faith is not a theoretical matter, but rather that it is to define one’s private life as well. And this, in turn, is clearly expressed in one’s daily conduct. “How do I live? How do I react? And why do I do what I do? These are some core questions that all people should ultimately ask themselves.
A familiar Bible text in Christian circles is recorded in Psalm 73: 23–24: “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand, You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” This formulation indicates that a difficult path lies ahead. And it is beyond doubt that unpleasant experiences have an influence on our faith. It is even worse when we see that those who do not believe in anything or anyone—and who do not even inquire into the will of God—seem to have a mostly successful and carefree life. When negative events then occur in our lives on top of it all, we are quick to call into question the love and goodness of God. The word “nevertheless” gives us a hint of what will actually help in this situation: we are to remain with God despite all hardships, and always ask for His help. These are good recipes for cliff-hangers.
The sermon on the second Sunday of the month explores the connection between obedience and blessing. No one can earn the blessing of God. Even if it has more of a spiritual effect, it helps the believer immensely—it makes one rich inside! Yet before every blessing there is a commandment that needs to be observed. For example, people who live in accordance with the law of love for their neighbour can be a blessing to society because their actions and words are defined by solidarity, not selfishness. Our society needs people who live by the commandment of love for their neighbour! But this means that traditional views must often be re-evaluated, and that is not so easy, as everyone knows. Nevertheless, those who wish to receive blessing must implement this commandment.
What helps the Church
“Our goal is not to create a kind of megachurch that encompasses all beliefs and denominations,” says Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in his Divine Service Guide article for the third Sunday service in September. After all, it is the mission of all Christians and all denominations to allow other people to discover the love that God has for them! “We are glad when we have a good relationship with other Christian churches. We do not see them as competitors, let alone adversaries.”
God loves all human beings, and those who believe in Him should do the same. Our love for one another is an outstanding sign of Christian conduct. For this reason, all believers should contribute constructively within their own congregations and share in the sufferings and joys of their neighbour.
“Your kingdom come!” This is one of the pleas Christians express in the Lord’s Prayer, and this is a petition that incorporates both the present and future kingdom of God. Celebrating the sacraments, asking for the grace of God, and following His ways are all steps that lead into the kingdom of God. The consolation is: that which Jesus accomplishes for His kingdom is far greater than anything we can contribute to it! It is Jesus who rules His work—all of His disciples stand in His service and in service to one another. No one is ruler over the other. Only in this way can all do their part to ensure that love, patience, and grace prevail in the congregation.
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