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We Are in It for the Long Haul

January 09 2019
January 09 2019
By

“One aspect of [our culture’s atmosphere] that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once. We assume that if something can be done at all, it can be done quickly and efficiently. Our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second commercials. Our sense of reality has been flattened by thirty-page abridgments.”

It’s hard to believe that the late Presbyterian pastor Eugene Peterson penned these telling words nearly 40 years ago in 1980! As we have now entered into 2019, we might add to his point the following: our attention spans have been conditioned by a stream of Instagram stories. Our sense of reality has been flattened by continuously scrolling through Facebook newsfeeds.

Would you agree that the world around us seeks to vie for our attention? There is something to be said about recognizing the things that capture our attention and time. According to Scripture, we are to intentionally see our lives as a long obedience to God in the same direction—a holy pursuit of knowing and loving God and casting aside every weight and sin that clings to us so closely (Heb 12:1–2; 1 Pet 1:13–16).

This is why one of our core values at Grace is this: We are in it for the long haul.

What we mean when we say this is that we are committed to both Christ and his church.

First and foremost, we are committed to our Lord and Savior. We are disciples of Jesus Christ who are known and loved dearly by God. In fact, 1 Peter 2:9–10 says this about us:

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (ESV)

The implications of such a wonderful truth run deep. This rich truth waters the soul, like drinking from a crisp, cold water bottle after a long run. As people belonging to our great God and Savior, we are recipients of both unmerited mercy and sustaining grace in every season of life. God is faithful to us, and we are called to be faithful to him and to each other.

At Grace, we see ourselves as not only members of the body of Christ, universal, but members to one another in particular. We’ve covenanted before God and each other as members that we are sinners saved by his sovereign mercy and men and women who rest upon Christ alone for salvation as he is offered in the gospel. We’ve also covenanted before God and each other that we will, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, endeavor to live as becomes a follower of Christ, to support the worship and work of the church, and to be about the peace and purity of the church.

But the rubber meets the road at this point. Meaningful relationships take time to build. Reputations of grace and humility are established over years of faithfulness. Wisdom is accrued through life experience. Joy is to be had in resting in the knowledge of Christ. Notice how good gifts—graces—are best experienced over the course of a long time. This is true of the spiritual blessings God gives us, and it is true of a community that is marked by such grace. Gospel-centered community takes time to build, nourish, and protect.

So, do you want these benefits of living in Christian community? Are you willing to invest yourself in the life of the church for her good and yours?

The joy of knowing God and following our Lord Jesus with other believers who are “in it for the long haul” is sweeter than honey. It is a country road worth traveling. It is a harvest in the soul that surpasses material wealth.

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7 (ESV)

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If you’re interested in how to grow as a disciple of Christ while “in an instant society,” Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is a great resource to explore.


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