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Pastor Bob's eNews for - April 8, 2021 

Dear FPC family and friends,           

           Two weeks ago in our Sunday School class a concept was raised by the author and pastor John Ortberg that I haven’t been able to shake.  When Jesus called his disciples in Matthew 4:20-21 he called to them and said simply, “follow me”, and they dropped their nets and followed him immediately.  For the next three years he didn’t teach them the correct way in which to think and the right theology, he simply kept encouraging them to follow him as he led them by example.

            The Presbyterian Church likes to think of itself as a church that insists that its pastors be well educated and so we make our way through college and then graduate school and then we are able to be ordained.  Our constitution requires that pastors learn Greek and Hebrew before they are to be ordained.  Jesus was a well-respected Rabbi and so considered not only well versed in his book knowledge, after all he shocked the leaders of the temple when he was only 12, but also in his general knowledge.  Paul was schooled by the best teachers and graduated with the ability to do anything that he wanted in the world of religious thought of that day.

            But I have placed so much emphasis in my own teaching, whether it be with the confirmation kids or with my Sunday sermons, on the correct way of thinking in order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and much less on emphasizing what it means to “follow” Jesus.  Jesus never said to his disciples as he called them: “Believe the right things about me and you can be my disciples.”  No, he said simply, “follow me, and you’ll be my disciples”.  The idea that first you have to believe the right things about Jesus did not come from Jesus. 

            What would it look like to focus our energies more on laying out a plan on how we are going to follow Jesus more closely as opposed to how are we going to understand better the meaning of Jesus being the Son of God while at the same time both human and divine?  Now both of these things are true and important, but the latter is not a prerequisite in order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

            I do feel like I am walking a thin line between heresy and pragmatism and that line can get blurred when you emphasize the very real qualities of being a follower of Jesus Christ.  A follower of Jesus Christ loves God with all of their heart, soul and mind.  A follower of Jesus Christ loves their neighbor as themselves.  We often create straw figures in issues that we raise up as litmus tests for who is a “real” Christian and who is not.  We often use issues that revolve around sexuality, or the unborn, or politics in order to create a sense that if you believe the right thing then you can safely call yourself a Christian.  If you do not believe the right thing about any or all of these issues, then you probably need some work and we’re not sure we will be seeing you when this life is over.

            I know, that sounds extreme, and I think you will agree with me that we have entered a time when everything feels a bit extreme.  This approach that I was confronted with a few weeks ago is nothing new, but I think it can go a long way in bringing the temperature down within our society which calls itself on many levels Christian.  If we are able to focus more on being a follower of Jesus (love God and neighbor) and focus less on believing the right thing (you must agree with certain points of theology and ethics in order to be a part of us), then we would see a unanimity of thought and action that would create a much calmer and peaceful context in which to live.

            Let me leave you with a verse from Matthew as a taste of what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus:  “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  (Matthew 16:24) 

Your servant in Christ,

Pastor Bob

HAPPENING IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH…

            Congregational Meeting:  We will be having a congregational meeting at 9:45 this Sunday morning between services and before Sunday School.  You can join us in person, so if you are coming to Sunday School please come to the meeting first and then go to Sunday School.  We will also be virtual with a zoom possibility.  Please follow this link if you will not be there in person: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9703411314 and for phone-in use 1 646 558 8656, then key in 9703411314# .

            Bible Study this Evening:  Join us as we will be looking at the resurrection of our Savior according to Mark.  Here is where you can find us: Youtube

Worship with us in person! 

If you choose to stream use these options:

Sunday

8:30am

Worship

Youtube

Church website

Facebook

phone in: 1 646 558 8656 then key in 9703411314#

9:45 Congregational meeting

Zoom

phone in: 1 646 558 8656 then key in 9703411314# 

11am

Worship

Youtube

Church website

Facebook

phone in: 1 646 558 8656 then key in 9703411314#

Youth Group at 5:30 in person only

Thursday

6pm

Bible Study

Youtube

 

 

 

 

     
   
 
 
 

 

welcome

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