How Do You Know God Loves You?
A summary of the Simple Church Conference 2018
(pictured to the left is the home in Stanford, KY where we gathered for the our meetings together)
“God loves You!” is foundational truth of the Christian faith. It is repeated so frequently among the faithful that it’s almost ingrained in our minds. “Jesus love me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” is perhaps the first song that many Christians sing to their children. However, how do we really know that God loves us? If someone came to you and said, “Forget the Bible verses. Tell me why you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God loves you.” How would you answer?
This was the question I posed at the Simple Church Conference this past weekend in Stanford, KY. I have a growing sense that God desires to show us just how much He does love us and that this deep understanding is foundational to the Christian life and our experience of “church.” Are we going to church, making disciples, doing _______(fill in the blank) because we are God’s beloved or because we are trying to be loved by God? This can seem tricky for us to discern, especially if we are a part of a church (simple or traditional) that is actively recruiting Christians to do an array of programs and activities. This conference was about taking time to examine our own lives and recalibrating our experience in light of His amazing love!
Learning to Live Loved
For our time together, we spent Saturday afternoon watching and discussing this two-part video interview with Wayne Jacobson. I have had the opportunity to visit with Wayne before and have enjoyed his books So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore? (Download free here)and Finding Church (Purchase here). As you will see in the video, Wayne talks about church and Jesus in a way that is different from what we might normally hear. This interview hits on a lot of important topics related to the church, but concludes with the “main thing” about church and helping others to find Christ–learning to live loved.
Breaking The Hex
We also enjoyed hearing from Jeff Fields, a former pastor of ten years and current employee at Central Bank in Lexington about a book that he recently wrote with his brother entitled Breaking The Hex: Life with God after The Cross Killed Religion. The book, based on Galatians, examines how modern-day Christianity has embraced much of what the “foolish Galatians” did in Paul’s time—we try to build on the grace of God through works and law. While we often don’t think about many of our Christian practices and attitudes in this light, Jeff challenged us to reconsider our ideas about what it means to “be a good Christian” and faithful church member.
Jeff also relayed a beautiful story about Wayne’s garden and their dog that is a great picture of how God loves us (Jeff and Wayne are friends). That story can be read here.
In addition, Jeff shared from the last chapter of his book about how we loose sight of our all-important relationship with the Father when we set out to accomplish a big project for God. This was illustrated with the final scene from Field of Dreams. (Spoiler Alert!) In this movie, Ray is guided by a voice to do a crazy thing…build a baseball field. He follows and builds the field, but in the end, we find that it was all so that he could spend time playing catch with his father–one that he had never known as a boy.
Stories of His Love
Sunday, we did what those of us in simple church regularly do–one another each other! We enjoyed breakfast, the Lord’s Supper, and a time for folks to share the answer to the question I posed. It was one of the more meaningful times I’ve had with Christ and His family. I think I can say that everyone had a wonderful sense of God’s presence as each person spoke about the tangible ways He had expressed His love. It was truly a beautiful and unforgettable time.
Perhaps you may like to consider this same question? Perhaps watching the videos or reading Jeff’s book (both linked above) may help you join the conversation that was started this weekend? I would love to hear from you if so! Please feel free to share below.
My prayer for all of you connected to this work is that we all would walk in His love more deeply and that any efforts to “make disciples” or even start simple churches would be done out of a growing, intimate walk with Jesus where we are responding to His invitations and living in His love!