One of the things Jesus had a outstanding ability to define spiritual truth in terms of the activities people were already engaged in. He didn’t teach like the scribes and the Pharisees (precepts, propositions and concepts about God and how to live). He taught in word pictures and stories that reflected the every day life experiences of the people who listened to Him, particularly the poor. The basis of the Scripture never changed, He quoted it accurately, but was able to translate the fullest meaning into the lives of His hearers.
For instance, He took a familiar story - a father with two sons- one who said yes to his father but did nothing, the other who said no, but repented and did his father’s will. These were not long complicated stories - they were visuals that penetrated the hearts of those in the circumstances they lived in. That’s the art of living the Gospel with our neighbors, breathing the same air and living in the same community with them. Leaving people with a story or an account is something the Holy Spirit of God works over time in the hearts of people who hear it. So how do you do it?
I’ve found that lots of people are interested in our move as a church. The fact that we are willing to give up so much for the integrity of the Gospel opens lots of conversations with people. Actually, the phenomenal response of Epiphany to the Freedom Fund to pay our court-ordered debt is a great lead-in to the Gospel. The human race is born with a debt of sin that we can’t pay. The evidence is all around us - simply put, the center of S-I-N is “I” - me first. Most people would be willing to explore that on some level. But the Good News is that God makes Himself a debtor on our behalf. He, not us, pays our debt because He’s the only one who can. Here’s where you can tell the story. We owe, can’t pay (because it requires perfect life), Jesus pays our debt on the Cross, acquits us of all guilt, gives up His place as a Son so we can be sons and daughters, then seals it with a promise of physical resurrection (Easter!) giving freedom from the fear of death.
The other side of the Gospel is that it is a call for us to live sacrificially out of love for others. Jesus acted this out by washing the feet of His disciples. I heard a story of a boss who took the blame for an employee. Instead of saying “You owe me one” he just kept working like nothing had happened. Finally the employee asked “Why??” He explained Someone had done far more for him, and this was just part of how he lived as a Christian. It left the employee in wonder and awe at a God who would do that.
As we move to worshipping in a hotel, we will have lots of opportunities to tell our story. Be ready - take the opportunity. It is a seed that will grow under the loving care of our Father who loves people and longs for a relationship through His Son.
The Rev'd Robin Rauh is rector of Church of the Epiphany Anglican.
You can see photos of their future worship space here.