Victorious faith

1 John 5:1-5

The Reverend Adam T. Carrington died on January 26, 2023. He was a faithful witness to the Corpus Christi community. He won’t go down in church history as an internationally-known preacher.

But he made an impact here.

He impacted me, for sure.

Unfortunately, I can’t say we were friends. I only met him a couple of times. He and I should’ve been friends. I would’ve been better for it. Our interactions were short, but I could tell there was a passion within his soul. We said we’d touch base later, but you know how that can go.

We never did.

I admired his ministry. No, he wasn’t flashy or innovating. The conversations we had were mostly about how to reenergize ministry post-Covid. How to keep connections strong since people were still at home and not out as before. As far as digital ministry, he wasn’t doing anything exceptional. He seemed interested in a few of the tips I mentioned to him.

What he lacked in technological know-how he made up for a million times over with love for his people. That’s what came across in our interactions. His community was in trouble, and not just his church. They had been facing outside pressures for a long time and he stood as a defender of their rights as best he could.

He was a blessing.

And I know it was his faith that moved him forward. Not just a faith that says, “Jesus loves me.” That’s powerful enough. Knowing we’re loved is essential to understanding our place before God. But Brother Carrington knew Jesus loved all us little children of the world. Coupled with an assurance of God’s love, he had  a victorious faith that knew God has conquered the world.

Because of his strong faith, it didn’t make sense to watch people suffer. It wasn’t God’s will for people to be taken advantage of. So, he worked and he believed. I don’t know how far his ministry stretched. But I can tell you it inspired mine. Before you can have a faithful ministry, you have to have a victorious faith.

God uses the faith, the victorious faith of not-so-flashy, ordinary Christians like you and me to bring light and life to the world. Thank you, Brother Carrington, for witnessing that to us.

Stay blessed…john

That day

Luke 6:17-26

“What a day of rejoicing that will be!”

That’s a line from the old hymn “When We All Get to Heaven.” The entire song is about waiting and hoping for the day we all see Jesus together. We’ll shout for joy that day. Until then, the promise of our future rejoicing is a prize worthy for remaining “true and faithful” now.

So, we commit ourselves to the way of God.

Now, we’ve said before Jesus does not seem to preoccupy himself with getting people to heaven. He preaches the reality of God’s kingdom here and now before us. He teaches us to pray for heaven’s reality to be here and now. No doubt Jesus believes there’s rejoicing in heaven. Remember what he said about the angels when a sinner repents?

Jesus, then, is heavenly minded, but not always in the way we tend to be. Most of us think merely of a heavenly reward for enduring this life. Jesus, though, wants the reality of heaven to impact this life. And not in a be-good-and-you’ll-get-your-reward kind of way.

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.” Yes, that’s a blessing, apparently. Jesus then offered the appropriate response for when that happens. “Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.”

On one hand, there is a heavenly reward involved. Prophets of old will rejoice with you side by side because they endured the same things. On the other hand, the rejoicing doesn’t begin in heaven. It starts today. “Rejoice on that day,” Jesus says. That day they reject you. That day they exclude you or defame you.

That day may be today. It may hurt and it may be a shock to your faith. But rejoice! Not because it’s happening to you. God doesn’t delight in our suffering. Rejoice because God’s way still reigns. Rejoice because that day they reject you doesn’t mean God ever has. Rejoice because you know God has not turned away from you.

Stay blessed…john

Our choice to see

Ruth 2:1-13

Tradition recognizes Boaz as a generous man. It’s thought he would’ve been part of the Sanhedrin, a religious ruling council. So, his reputation would’ve stood out to many of his people. That helps explain his willingness to help Ruth. She may have caught his attention with her beauty, but his charitable manner was key, too.

But we call the story by the name of its real hero, Ruth. She made the difficult decision to remain with her mother-in-law Naomi. They both lost their husbands. The younger Ruth still had options for making a life for herself after her loss. 

Naomi did not. By staying with Naomi, Ruth is saving her life. Ruth’s sacrifice goes down in Israelite history as a moment of redemption and hope. But even before that, it’s an act whose reputation spreads, too.

The irony is Ruth was a Moabite. Culturally speaking, she was not supposed to do nice things like that. Moabites were pagan. They did not serve, fear or worship God. Don’t think this is no big deal. We don’t know her Moabite lineage by accident. 

When Ruth first met Boaz, someone introduced her as “the young Moabite woman who came back with Naomi from the country of Moab” (Ruth 2:6). 

People recognized Ruth chose to follow Naomi. And she made the choice every day to continue. Boaz, too, made a choice. He only knew two things about her. He found out she was one of those people who aren’t supposed to do nice things. Then he learned she’s the one who chose to sacrifice for her mother-in-law.

Which characteristic would he pay mind to?

It’s not always an easy decision for us. Many times we have our minds made up about people. Usually, something about their history shapes our perception of them. Or maybe even something about what we see right here and right now. And that perception dictates how we interact or engage with them, if we do at all. 

You could say the generosity of Boaz helped him see more the beauty of who Ruth was. But even nice, generous people can choose otherwise. Our challenge is to see past what we think we know about people. Choose to learn to see people for who they are.

That’s a choice that could lead to greater blessings.

Stay blessed…john