By, Isam Itson III
The Church of Jesus Christ: Stepping up and reaching out in our local communities from generation to generation by embracing God’s vision and mission for his Church.
Reconciling the relationship between God, ourselves, and each other is at the heart of what God did for us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. In light of this reconciliation, living and working with each other is at the heart of our integrity as human beings made in God’s image and professing faith in God through Jesus Christ. This is the life and mission of the members of the church of Jesus Christ on earth.
When I am really honest with myself, this often means nothing to me. I am so tired of having to live up to my responsibilities. I just want to hide from everybody. In the moment I feel better, but afterward I feel so guilty about the time I have spent with nothing to show for it, that I actually feel worse. I truly feel I have no time or energy left for anything beyond the grind of providing for my family. I hear about enduring joy, but all I feel is pointless drudgery.
How do I get over myself and start living the way God made me to live in Jesus Christ? I want to do it. My spouse wants me to do it. Our son needs me to do it. I just don’t know how to live for God and others when I can barely summon the energy to get out of bed and face myself. How in the world do I face God and others? I need to close the gap I feel between me and God and other people.
When I start feeling and thinking like this, I need to express it honestly to God. Opening my heart to God in prayer, even agonizing prayer, reminds me that I am not alone in the struggle. It reminds me of God’s purpose for me and His presence with me. It reminds me that what God has given me today is enough to honor his love for others. Then, I go to other people who are also committed to living in submission to God and we help each other love others well in the day to day grind of life in an imperfect and often disappointing world. As we do this our example encourages those with whom we live and work. This gives meaning and integrity to our words of encouragement. It also helps other people discover the hope and strength God has for them in Jesus Christ as they face their own challenges and endure their own struggles.
As we consider God’s vision and mission for the church, our goal is helping each other honor God and his love for others purposefully, practically, and consistently; especially when we fail. The enemy is seeking to isolate us in our shame and to protect ourselves from judgment and ridicule. The key to overcoming our shame is committing ourselves to live and work together in pursuit of God’s purpose for us, trusting God in spite of ourselves. This fosters trust from others, allowing them to feel safe while being honest when they talk with us. Over time, our web of relationships widens and strengthens throughout our entire community, distributing God’s hope and love in Jesus Christ around the world.