I am so grateful for the family of God. In a culture that idolizes individualism, we are called to be a body, a connected entity made one by Jesus Christ.
In Revelation, the message of the vision of Christ was not written for individuals, but as a word to the church, as the messages to the seven churches (ch. 2-3) demonstrate.
Jesus meets us and grows us in this family, with all its frailties and shortcomings, because that is where His Spirit resides and that is where he can best paint a stunning portrait of his grace.
Jesus turns death into resurrection. We take up our cross to find new life. Today I came across the following quote from Henri Nouwen that ties in nicely with what we've learned from James 1.
"Jesus calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement. That is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every moment that we have lived, and to claim our unique journey as God’s way to mold our hearts to greater conformity with God’s own. The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and it invites us to find hope where we see pain, and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment of our life can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads us to new life." - Henri Nouwen
Pastor Ward Parkinson