November 9, 2009

So what DO we have to Offer our Community? Part 2

Last week I gave the first half of my answer to the question: What does Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church have to offer the community of Pleasant Ridge? It was a question I had the privilege of answering, on November 3, for the Pleasant Ridge Community Council. And the simple answer was that we want to offer our community the same thing that the very first church in Jerusalem offered theirs: “the apostles’ teachingfellowshipthe breaking of bread … and prayer” (Acts 2.42). Having already discussed how we want to provide the apostles’ teaching (i.e. the Bible) to our community; and how we want to offer fellowship (or family), too … I proceed now to record for you the second half of my ten minute talk. Once again, I hope it helps you as you have the opportunity to articulate (for neighbors, family members, co-workers, and classmates) what we Christians really all about (whether at PRBC or your church). Here’s what I said:

3. The breaking of bread. This phrase, “the breaking of bread” is really a synonym for the early church’s observance of the Lord’s Supper (or communion, or the eucharist as it is sometimes called) … which recalled Jesus broken body and shed blood by means of broken bread and wine. The early church was dedicated to this observance … but not merely for the sake of the symbol; not as a perfunctory rite. No. The reason they cared so much about this symbol was because of what it symbolized! They wanted to constantly remind themselves (and their neighbors) of what Jesus had done for sinners. And so do we! We want to offer our community JESUS! Indeed, He is the most important of all the things we want to offer our community. The reason why we are so serious about the Bible is because it’s all about Him (Luke 24.27)!

So, more than anything else, we want to offer Jesus to our community. But why Jesus? Well, because the Bible says that:

*Jesus is God made flesh; God become human (John 1). And if God has really become a man, we think everyone might want to know about that!
*Jesus was tempted in all things as we are (Hebrews 4)… and therefore sympathizes with our weaknesses. That’s good news!
*Jesus was tempted in all things as we are…
but without sin (Hebrews 4). And I would think people would want to know: ‘How did He do that?’ We certainly haven’t. Indeed, if each of us were honest with ourselves, we’d be ashamed to admit the kinds of things we sometimes do, say, and think. But not Jesus!
*Jesus, because He was without sin, was capable of dying for ours! The wages of sin is death (Romans 6). But Jesus had no sin. So why did He die? Not for His own sins, but for ours … to bring us to God (1 Peter 3.18). He took the punishment that we deserve so that those who believe (and only those who believe) receive the eternal life of favor and blessing and relationship with God that only Jesus deserves.
*Jesus literally, bodily rose from the dead. And again, if that really happened, it would seem that everyone would want to know about it!

So, for all these reasons, we believe Jesus is the most important topic of discussion and thought that our community (or any community) can be offered. And so we desperately want our neighbors to know Him!

4. Prayer. Because we have been forgiven in Jesus, God has granted us free, personal access to His throne. We can talk to God … and tell Him all about our needs. And He answers prayer. So, finally, we want to offer our community the promise of PRAYER. We will be praying for you as a council. And if you (as a council or as individuals) ever have specific prayer needs, my door and phone line are always open. The same is true for anyone else in our community. And we’d love to invite you to pray with us, too. On Sundays at 9am we meet and do nothing but pray for 45 minutes. Would you join us? We’d love to pray with and for each and every one of you!”

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