Two by Two
by David Dahl
I’m fascinated by all the places in the Bible that leave us to wonder what happened next. How did the formerly demon-possessed man live after Jesus removed his demons and he moved out of the cemetery, gave up his chains, and returned to his family and his town? How did Lazarus live once Jesus restored him to life? What was Zacchaeus’s life like after he became a follower of Jesus and, against the advice of his friends, started giving back money to those he’d robbed? What happened to his business? What happened after the woman at the well confessed Jesus as the Messiah? What did her live-in boyfriend think? What happened next?
It’s good to wonder about what happened next, because we know that something happened next. Jesus changes people. They become disciples, learners who put what they’ve learned into practice. They become as Christ, moving by the Spirit in obedience to His commands. They become disciples.
That is why we put more and more energy into being a disciple of Jesus Christ. As life unfolds, there is always a “what happens next.” There are joys and sorrows, challenges and the answers to those challenges, betrayal and forgiveness, facing evil and celebrating good.
The church in Ephesus grew disciples of Jesus in very difficult circumstances. In an affluent culture, there were multiple opportunities to worship gods in glorious temples. There were a multitude of distractions, and with them, a multitude of social problems. The challenge of facing temptation and its consequences was daily. The “what next” was always there, and with it, the promise of God’s amazing grace and power. Paul wrote to the followers of Jesus in urgent yet worshipful terms:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14b-19)
Note all the references to growth in his words. Rooted and established, to grasp, to know this love that surpasses knowledge, be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. These words all describe the constant change that happens in those who follow Christ in a “what next” world.
That is why we are putting more and more energy into making disciples of Jesus. It is rewarding to see teachers involved in teaching our kids the basics of the faith, and adults leading small groups and circles. It’s why we get together to pray for others when they face circumstances that are too big for them.
This leads to an open invitation: When you go about doing the things that God has given you to do, bring someone with you. Ushering, greeting, teaching, quilting, cooking, praying. Bring someone with you. When you make the next batch of cookies to share with a neighbor who needs a boost, invite someone else along to teach them the joy of sharing and bearing one another’s burdens. Bring someone along to fix and mend and enjoy music, or mend a machine. Say a good “thank you” to God before you eat, and practice gratitude. Follow Jesus and bring someone along. You and they will grow in ways not possible by any other activity. And you’ll have the amazing experience of seeing others grow as well.
Following our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the best preparation for “what happens next.”
Keep and Live the Faith!
-Pr. David G. Dahl
September 02, 2023
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