From the Pastors' Desks

Is He Worthy?

“I like Jesus. He was a good teacher. I appreciate the sacrifice he made and that the Father gave his Son for me. But I also like my culture. I follow the seven traditions of the fathers.” This was the tail end of a conversation that I recently had during an Anchored youth outing with a gentleman (I’ll call Mark). Twenty of us went down to Moline to invite people to worship at the new location of our church plant, Living Hope.

We were passing out information for the worship services, knocking on doors, meeting people, and letting them know there was a new Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching church in their neighborhood. Many who we met either already attended other churches or expressed interest to come the following Sunday. Mark was different.

After knocking on his door, and walking away, he came out onto the porch and called us back. He wanted to talk to us, hear what we were doing and also share about himself. “The seven traditions of the fathers teach me to be a better man every day. I learned it from my parents, and I’ll teach it to my sons. The traditions teach me to be the best version of myself that I can be. I did well yesterday, and today is a new opportunity to be a better man.” Mark was a tall, warm-hearted Indigenous American man in his late fifties. He wore his long, black hair pulled back in a ponytail. Mark told us he liked traveling around to woodworking conventions and sharing about his work and culture.

But his religious commitment was simple and clear. Mark thinks of himself as very spiritual, but not into organized religion. It was very striking that Mark wanted to build a bridge of commonality with our group by talking about his favorite aspects of Christianity. He believed, however, that we all need to live pluralistically; combining the different true aspects of all the religions while living authentic lives and following our own hearts.

This is not the typical conversation I’ve had in West Michigan, which is why it was so memorable. Most people have had some connection with a church in the past, and if they aren’t worshiping anywhere anymore, would at least claim some level of commitment to Christianity. I quoted passages from John to Mark. I said, “The Jesus you say you appreciate so much also said, ‘I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6). He smiled. From what I could tell, the truth of what I said didn’t sink in very much.

As I reflected on the conversation, this was the conclusion I kept coming back to: Jesus is worthy of all worship. The book of Revelation has a beautiful set of resounding hymns. I’d encourage you to take your Bible and just read these poems which, in most Bibles, are the indented sections of the book. They are each so wonderful! One of them says, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” It’s as if the apostle John is piling on all the reasons why Jesus is worthy of our worship. Andrew Peterson has done my favorite rendition of this song which is linked below. The questions are asked about what’s wrong with the world and whether Christ is all satisfying and worthy of our worship. The choir responds each time: “He is!”

The seven traditions of the fathers that Mark is following – Buddha, Mohamed, and all other teachers and prophets who don’t bow down and worship Jesus – will one day bow the knee before him. All ways cannot lead to God because nobody else is worthy of our eternal worship. Thomas knew this when he fell before the resurrected Jesus and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

 

In His Service,

Pastor Adrian Crum

 

What Pastor Adrian is reading . . .  

Every Moment Holy Volume 2: Death, Grief and Hope 
by Douglas Kaine McKelvey 

My neighbor of a few months has recently lost his wife to cancer. They have 7 children, ages 2-17. I was very struck with a prayer in this volume called, “A Liturgy for Removing One’s Wedding Ring.” I’m praying this and other prayers in the volume as he goes through this terrible grief. One of the prayers at the close says, “Let my lips, my tongue, my life proclaim the glories of the Living One who died and conquered death; the Risen One who leads me into life.” This has been a wonderful volume helping voice different prayers for unique situations in our lives as sufferers waiting for our eternal consolation.

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