• Ray Hileman

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? Part 3

People today are looking to see the lessening of violence and anger, both in words and action. Here at Celebration of Christ, we are part of the Church of the Brethren, an historic peace church, so we offer some Scriptural answers (not always easy, but taught and modeled by Jesus). People are also looking for an end to the mad consumerism that surrounds us and screams in our face. Here at celebration of Christ, we also have a value of "Simplicity," and we reject the drive for more and better things in exchange for just enjoying the many gifts God provides for us daily.

The third and final thing we want to look at in this post is the idea of loneliness and isolation. You can see it sometimes in people's hollow faces. I remember, when growing up, our family would sit out on the front porch at night and talk to neighbors as they passed by and even call out to neighbors across the street. Sometimes we would go over to them, as well. Everyone, in general, was friendly. Contrast that to today. People keep their doors locked in the evening and often spend hours in front of the TV, unless they go out to an occasional restaurant or movie. They live in gated communities. They put "Keep Out," "No Trespassing," and "Beware of Dog" signs out, and more. Neighbors do not know each other, except to give a passing "Hi," if that. What happened?

For one thing, violence and crime has increased, so there is an element of fear. But also, there is this increasing desire for autonomy, to be left alone, to live our lives the way we want. But the end result is the same - aching loneliness, lack of true friends, isolation, sometimes even from our closest family (not eating dinner together or talking because of all the electronic and social media we have,)

Well, once again, the Church of the Brethren, of which Celebration of Christ is a part, has a Scriptural response. We call it COMMUNITY. We believe we were never called to isolation in the Christian life. As Warren Wiersbe has said, "We need each other, and we affect each other." In the New Testament epistles, there are over 20, what we call, "one another" statements in regard to the church, such as "Serve one another," "Warn one another," "Honor one another," "Greet one another," all under the umbrella of Jesus' New Commandment in John 13:34-35: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another."

Obeying this command is not always easy. People, even in the church, can be difficult at times. But as the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you're stuck with your relatives." And through the blood of Christ, which was shed to make each of us His, we are bound together to live this life. This means, we hold each other accountable and teach each other as we seek to grow more and more into His likeness. But it also means we have people to care for us and be there for us when we hurt. And we have the same privilege to be this for others. And it means we can stand together against the forces which menace our world today. There is nothing more that we have to do alone. We learn to love, forgive, have patience, encourage, give honor to, and serve others in the Body of Christ even as they do the same for us.

Maybe you've stayed away from Christ too long. Or maybe you want to follow Him, but you've stayed away from church for too long. It's never too late. Come and be a vital part once again of the "communion of saints," the community of the redeemed. You no longer need to be alone. God is with you. And we will be, too.

Violence and hatred, consumerism and greed, loneliness and isolation. Celebration of Christ is a church in Tampa Bay that is uniquely prepared to give an answer to these plaguing problems as we promote PEACE, SIMPLICITY, AND COMMUNITY, all vital elements of following Christ as His disciples.

Won't you check us out? We worship every Sunday morning at 10:15 am. And that time is preceded by an Adult Bible Class at 9:00. Plus we have monthly meals together after worship, other Bible studies, opportunities to work and reach out together, and more. Contact us for more information. God richly bless you!


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3651 71st St. N. St. Pete, FL 33710

3651 71st St. N. Saint Petersburg, FL 33710

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