On that final journey to Rome Paul traveled with two good friends, Luke and Aristarchus, who had been with him through thick and thin. Luke and Aristarchus proved themselves to be true friends in the ministry. We have several men and women in our church who have been serving with me personally for over a decade and some nearly 2 decades.
Where ever there are people working together their will be disagreements. God’s call for unity doesn’t mean that we all think and act exactly alike in areas of Christian liberty. God doesn’t call for uniformity of standards and opinions but unity within our differences of personality, gifts, preferences, and minor doctrinal differences. To deny differences among believers in the Christian walk results in a judgmental, prideful, and legalistic attitude.
When People minister together in the church for long periods of times it brings God great pleasure. How do people maintain such loyal and long lasting friendships? They give each other the benefit of the doubt and don’t assume wrong motives. They don’t react angrily in conflict but respond graciously with humility. They work on loving each other as Christ loved them. Most importantly they have unity based on the essentials of the faith. God is ultimately most pleased with our unity surrounding the essential truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul said it clearly in I Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. The gospel is Jesus Christ, the one and only way to heaven. He is the one we turn to by letting go of our sins and receiving Him as Lord and Savior. We trust in his blood sacrifice that cleanses us of our sins and makes us acceptable to God. Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
The key to long lasting friendships is to glory in the gospel of Christ and continue to be more like Him in every part of our lives. May you be consumed with the love of Christ so that you will have the strength to develop and enjoy friendships that will last a life time.
Jerry Favor- Pastor at Sagle Victory Baptist Church
Over the years many of us have felt as if God was in the midst of doing something great and that He was going to change things in our lives and in our community in a powerful and dramatic way. Many people have had this hope for Bonner County and for our community. In fact it was this hope that I have heard many people say was the reason that they came to this beautiful and majestic landscape. In my time here as a Pastor in this community, I have found that most people long for this, but few have seen it in their lives.
We ask ourselves these kinds of questions: What is preventing God from moving in Bonner County in a powerful and long-lasting way? When will God choose to pour out His Spirit in Bonner County and the person of Jesus Christ be set on the throne here? How will God move powerfully when we see disunity, posturing and the churches of God fighting over their distinctive callings?
Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions, and looking at the wrong things. I believe wholeheartedly that if we are going to see God move here in what I call “sustained revival”, we must know God’s heart for this place, this people, and be willing to be the hands and the feet of that heart. Perhaps the question is not about the Great Commission or even how we go about sharing this amazing news of freedom and life that we have in Christ. I also believe that the Bible gives us the key to seeing the world around us find out who Jesus is in His fullness and seeing the same dramatic transformation that was present in the book of the Acts of the Apostles.
Jesus when questioned about the law in Matthew 22:36-40, points out that the highest priority of life for all who would be in covenant with Him was to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus reinforced this concept when talking to His disciples in John 13:34-35 at the last supper when He gave them a new commandment saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Today in our current climate in Bonner County, we must be reminded that the Great Commandment is the foundation for the Great Commission. If we pursue the Commission without the priority of the Commandment, we are putting ourselves on the same playing field that the enemy is on, and undoubtedly people will hear the message, but miss the heart of the King. Instead we must learn that love is the imperative and 1 Corinthians 13 should be our mantra and calling card for every sermon, every outreach, every program and every relationship. This is the foundation of a community transformed. Love never fails.