Our First Love
At the beginning of each year our Leadership Team and their wives retreat for a weekend at the beach together. Our time together consists of breaking bread together, singing together, and usually partaking in 3-4 sessions in which we engage about the health of our spiritual lives and marriages, the direction of the church, and pray for the church body. It’s tempting to think, after coming back from a weekend such as this, that our church leadership has all kinds of new ideas and ministry endeavors for the coming year. In fact, we don’t. We have something better: our eyes more firmly fixated on Jesus.
This year, our main sessions consisted of simply reading the gospel of Mark together and discussing, at a broad level, the ministry of Jesus. And let me tell you, Jesus shows up and immediately has an impact (you’ll get that joke if you’ve read Mark’s gospel recently). In fact – look at the descriptions of the witnesses to Jesus’ power, authority, and words:
Mark 1:27-28 “And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority? He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And at once his fame spread everywhere through all the surrounding region of Galilee.”
Mark 2:12 – “…they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this.'”
Mark 3:11 – “And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.'”
Mark 5:42 – “… and they were immediately overcome with amazement.”
Mark 7:37 – “And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.'”
Mark 10:18 “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.”
Mark 15:39 “And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’“
The regions that Jesus traveled through were full of broken and needy people, just like the church. Instead of narrating all of the plans that Jesus made to minister to such people, Mark simply records that Jesus went, and He spoke, and people gathered in awe of Him. As we read, we pointed out that, while Jesus healed many (but certainly not even close to all) of the people that gathered, His primary concern was to preach the message of repentance and faith in the Son of God. That’s the message that truly heals broken people. That’s the message that creates a new, clean heart. That’s the message that produces more and better disciples.
I speak for all of the leadership team when I say thank you for praying for our time at retreat! We have all come back with our hearts more enthralled with Christ, our first love. We are amazed by Him, and astonished at His life changing message, along with His sacrificial love displayed on the cross. And we are excited for the year ahead to continue to lead the church into a deeper, richer amazement of all that He is.
In His Mercy,