Hope City Church, Waterloo, Iowa

February 26th, 2017

“Lord, come through to me.”

Those words came into my head as Pastor Q began to deliver the message this morning. I think I know why.

In my previous attempts at a Christian life, I would do the obligatory thing and take a friend of mine to church. And I would pray that our Lord would “get through” to the lost soul that was seated next to me (who didn’t know Jesus like I did, I smugly thought). These thoughts would come into my head despite the fact that I was still unrepentant and knee deep in addictions and superficial legalism to the point where I resented Jesus.

Those people might’ve been closer to Jesus than I was at the time.

I found myself thinking the same thing in the moments leading up to the sermon. People are coming to Jesus every week at Hope City Church it seems. I found myself praying that the Lord would get through to more people this week.

What right did I have to pray that? Was I in a position where, after only a few weeks, I could say I mastered the faith and am more of an enlightened Christian than anyone else? I suppose I could try to make the case for that if being a Christian were nothing but levels of enlightenment.

But, as I have been studying Scripture, working through the “Beginning a Relationship with Jesus” devotional, and listening to the messages of Pastor Q at Hope City, I am discovering, for the first time, that the heart of Christian faith is my relationship with Jesus. And to enter into a relationship with Him is to find out what He is like and what He wants and doesn’t want.

Then another thought occurred to me “You should pray that the Lord gets through to you with His message this week.”

And I prayed: “Lord, come through to me.”

It was a good time to pray that, since Pastor Q’s message this morning seemed tailor-made for me straight from God though I know good and well that many others are struggling with the same things. It was the fourth in the five-part series “Longing for Eden” dealing with The Garden of Eden section of Genesis.

A side note: In past times, the entire Book of Genesis would be incredibly problematic for me with my background as an academic, cynic, and overall snob. If you would have mentioned the Book of Genesis to me, I might have gone off into a rant about how the story was completely implausible and that the entire Garden of Eden story was, at best, a Jewish creation story. Do I still approach Adam and Eve with some questions and some skepticism? Yes, I do. I will be happy to share them on some other post down the road.

What Genesis 3 provides for me, even with my questions on some of the details, is something I have seen at work in my wanderings through the world: humanity is broken. I have zero difficulties believing that God created the world. And all I have to do is wake up and turn on the news (something that I’ve ceased doing in the last six months) to understand that depravity is moving in the world. I can also look at the relationships in my own life to see that something is amiss, which was the topic of Pastor Q’s sermon on Sunday.

The Fall in the Garden damaged the intimate relationship human beings have with other human beings. In my sermon notes, I have Pastor Q saying “We long to know and be known as we are still be loved as we are.” It’s not surprising that after their sin, Adam and Eve decided to hide when they heard God walking in the garden.

What was going on through their minds was/is going through my mind right now I attempt to escape the feelings of guilt and isolation that resulted from my sinful behaviors. To be sure, freedom has been achieved in Christ and I take the freedom He offers. But I think I am being realistic in my belief that it will take time.

Pastor Q outlined three areas where original sin affected our relationships with one another.

  1. Guilt.
  2. Fear
  3. Shame

In my relationships with other people, all of these worked together but I especially feel fear and shame in dealing with other people. Pastor Q defined fear in the expression of the emotion that “Who you are is unsafe with me around.” I’ve felt that way around people most of my life. If they knew about “the real me” they wouldn’t want to have any kind of surface-level friendship (let alone intimacy).

Guilt and fear combined to form shame which Pastor Q said attaches negative worth to who you are as a person as opposed to what you do. So I hid. In some ways, I am still hiding although my relationship with Jesus is slowly helping me emerge in Hope City Church.

The three truths that Pastor Q  said would lead to intimacy were:

  1. Speak truth
  2. Learn to trust
  3. Take your time

As I look at this list, I see that these things can be used to apply to my relationship with Jesus in addition to my fellow humans. With each other we are supposed to follow Ephesians 4:15:

“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ”

That truth serves as the foundation for learning to trust. Now that I think about it, this spiritual journal is my way of speaking truth to myself and the world. And as I proceed in Christ, I will be doing the third point, taking my time.

Which is why I am praying earnestly for the Lord to come through me.