Unexpected Jesus #5 - Is Faith Private?
Dr. Kurt Bjorklund looks at John 1:35-51 and what it means for us to share our faith with those around us.
This is an auto-generated transcript. Please excuse any errors.
Good morning. Welcome to Orchard Hill. Special welcome to those of you in the chapel this morning as well. I wanted to just take a moment before we jump into the teaching and highlight something that maybe you saw, but maybe you've missed and that is this Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. If you're not from a liturgical background, or a more high church background, that may be something that just kind of slides past you, or you don't think it's something that is necessary to observe. But this Wednesday, we'll be having special service in our chapel to celebrate kind of the beginning of the Lent season.
Then every Wednesday until Easter, there will be a service there, different members of our staff will be teaching to kind of help us walk through Lent. What Lent is, is just a season of preparation for what we as a church we'll celebrate on Good Friday and Easter. So if you have some space in your life, you may want to come this Wednesday or some of the Wednesday's during the Lent season just to be a part of ... Kind of another way to let your faith be strengthened in this time.
Let's take a moment and pray, and we'll jump into what we have here today. Father, thank you just for each person who's here. Thank you for the way that you've worked in bringing people to gather this morning. Father I pray that in these next moments you would speak to all of us. If I've prepared things that don't reflect your truth and emphasis and content I pray that you keep me from saying those things. God if I've not prepared things or there would be things that would be beneficial that I could say in these moments, I pray you'd prompt me, and I'd be responsive. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Well, if you have any kind of social media presence, or you go online much at all, chances are that in those moments you're aware that what you do is very limited in terms of its privacy. Certainly, if you've paid attention to Facebook or to Amazon or any of these kind of huge companies in these days, you know that even if you set your privacy settings as significantly to the private side as you can, that they are still well aware of just about everything that you do when you're on their site, and that they share it with different people. So for example, you are on Facebook and all of a sudden up pops an ad for something you're like, "How do they know that I'm interested in that?" Because of the way that your web browser in history is tied together.
Or Amazon once you order something they know the products you like, and about the frequency with which you should have to reorder. Or if you have a smartphone, and you go somewhere on your smartphone, you know that all of that data is being collected in mind and being utilized for something. There are probably some of us who that bothers us substantially. We don't want people to know what we do, what we look at. Certainly, there's even a whole nother layer. If you make your bank account accessible to somebody, or your credit card statements, they would know almost everything about your preferences.
So some of us that bothers immensely, some of us don't care that much. I'm somewhere in the middle in that, there's not a piece of me that loves that, like people out there somewhere, if they're real people know what deodorant I prefer. Then there's another piece of me that says, "Well, it's not that big of a deal necessarily." But when it comes to faith in our culture, it feels like an issue that people say, you know what, it's important that everyone believes whatever they want, and you can even express it. But what the predominant thought seems to be, but don't ever try to convince anybody else that your faith is in any way more substantial than somebody else's faith because faith is private. Faith is personal. You believe what you want, you act how you want.
Based on your convictions, your beliefs, that's something that you keep out of the public sphere, at least in terms of asking anybody else to conform, or to believe or to act. In other words, in our culture, it's one of the most private things. Because none of us wants to be the person who tells others how to live, or how to believe or how to behave, because that's seen as basically being culturally uncouth in this moment.
Our culture, at least in a couple of ways, sees faith as being private on probably three levels. I'm going to say first, just on the level of our interpretation. What I mean when I say that is we're seeing faith is saying it's private, because I interpret it the way that I see it, the way I believe it to be the way I think it should be. This isn't something that somebody else should have access to or care about. Then secondly, we see faith generally in our culture as being something that says, "This is my business." Even if it's not just my interpretation, it's my business to work out on my own, my way, my time.
Then thirdly, we see it as basically being, "These are my views, even if I've come to work it out, and it's based on something, and I shouldn't share it with other people because it doesn't belong in public debates."
Well, we're in a series that we've called, Unexpected Jesus. We're working through the first several chapters of the book of John. John is written to introduce people to Jesus. The reason we've called it Unexpected Jesus is because Jesus is often contrary to what people anticipate or think that Jesus is like, certainly in that culture, but also in our culture. In John chapter one, verse 35 through 51, which is what we're looking at, you heard a portion of this read earlier. What we're considering, what we're trying to understand when we look at this, is how Jesus interacts with the public nature of faith, or the private nature of faith.
Here's basically what happens in this account: Is Jesus calls people to himself, and as they begin to follow Him, it impacts how they understand faith. If you were to just say, "What is your point here with this today?" Here's what I would love for you to get. That is, faith is your own, but it isn't yours alone. Faith is your own, but it isn't yours alone. That may sound like I'm just making a little twist on words, but I think that there's something important in understanding that faith is alone. It's personal, but it isn't yours alone. What we'll see as we look at this, that there are at least three reasons why this is true.
Here's the first. The first is that faith is rooted in objective reality. This counters the idea that faith is just my own interpretation.
Again in our culture, the idea generally is this, and that is I have something that I believe or think or feel, and I make it my own interpretation. It's not rooted in anything deeper or anything broad, and it's certainly nothing that's verifiably true for everybody. But when we find faith in the New Testament what we find is that faith is actually rooted in an objective reality. Here's a couple of places: We see this verse 43 and 44, 45 it says; the next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee and finding Philip he said to him, "Follow me." So Jesus finds him and he says, "Follow me."
Philip like Andrew and Peter was from the town of Bethsadia. Philip found Nathaniel and told him ... Listen to this phrase. "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law and about whom the prophets also wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." What he does in that moment, and he says, "We found the one." he says the one the prophets wrote about, the one that Moses wrote about. What he's doing is he's saying, this is something that is objective, and it's true for everybody. It isn't just, we found a concept, or we believe something, he says this is the one.
The significance of this, is that this is again, something that is verifiable and objectively true. The whole point of the Gospel of John, from John chapter 20, verse 31, is that it's written so that you may believe and have life. He's saying, "I want you to know that these things are not just things that you dream up. They're not your own private interpretation, but they're based on some kind of an objective reality."
Now, again, in our culture today, people don't always love this idea. They love the idea of being able to say, "Well, I like to think of God like this," or "I like to consider God kind of the way that I think of God." But let me just put this in something that's outside of kind of the spiritual sphere. If you ever go down to Ohiopyle to go rafting or if you go rafting Youghiogheny River, here's a famous rock they're called Dimple rock. If you're not from this area it's a class ... I think three or four rapids or something and it's a really great trip. But Dimple rock is famous because several people have drown under Dimple rock. So if you ever raft the Youghiogheny, you'll come to a place where there's a sign and the sign says, "Danger." It tells you that this is a place that unless you have experience or something you may want to get out of the river and walk around the danger.
The reason it's so dangerous is because if you get drawn into the water there, there's a swirling effect, and it pulls even strong swimmers, experienced swimmers under the current, and they'll go under this rock and the force of the water at that point so strong you can't get out. Now why do I tell you this? The sign is pointing to an objective reality. It doesn't matter how you or I feel when we're coming down the river, and we're saying it's a beautiful day. There's no danger here. This is just outstanding. I'm having a good time, and I'm a strong swimmer. I'm not actually, but if you say I'm a strong swimmer, and you say, I'll be fine. In fact, I'm going to hop out of the raft and just float down this rapids because it looks more fun. You would put yourself in extreme danger whether you realize it or not.
The point is Dimple rock is an objective reality. The point of faith is that it's built on an objective reality. It's rooted on something that isn't just a private interpretation of personal preference, a personal ideal that you say, "Well, I think this because it's the kind of God I prefer."
The challenge in our culture is this, and that is people today basically say, "Well, you can have something that's true for you just don't say is true for everybody else." The idea is basically saying, "Listen, you can believe something but don't presume that your way is in any way true for everybody."
But what that does is it puts us in a little bit of a bind anybody. It's a bind emotionally because if you believe something's true, and to be told, "You can't say that it's true for everybody," is an emotional bind, because in part, you're saying, "I can't speak to this," but it's also a logical intellectual bind. What I mean by that is, what has that person done when they say, "You can't say that that's true for everybody," do you know what they're saying? Because it's true for everybody that that's not true for everybody. Right? Do you see the twist of the logic there? As soon as you say, "You can't say that because it's not true for everybody," what are you saying? I know what's true for everybody, and that is it's not true for everybody.
So at the same point, as pushing on that what they're doing is they're saying this is not something that everyone can believe in. Here's the issue with faith, and why I would say that faith is your own but it's not yours alone. Is because it's not just something that you come to and say, "Oh, I think this because I think it but it's based on this historic person of Jesus Christ." This is what our whole study of this gospel of John is about, is to say, Who is this Jesus? Is this reliable? Is this something I can believe?
I heard somebody speaking with an atheist sometime ago, and this person said that the atheist said to them, "I don't have any respect for a Christian person who doesn't try to convert me." I think the person was taken back, and he said, "Why?" And he said, "Well, if you really believe that there's a God, and that God came to this earth, and the person of Jesus Christ to die on a cross for the sins of people, humanity, and the way to have eternal life is to believe in this Jesus and you don't try to convert me, it means either you don't believe it, or you don't care about me. So I don't respect anybody who doesn't have believe in enough to try to convert me."
You see, faith is ultimately rooted in an objective reality. One of the reasons that we sometimes miss this is because we have beliefs that I would say are defeater beliefs. We see this in this little section here, after Philip and Andrew, said to Nathaniel, we found the one this is what Nathaniel says, verse 46, "Nazareth, can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Do you know what he's saying? He's saying, I don't believe that the Messiah, the King of the universe, could come from Nazareth, that's some back woods, little town, it's unsophisticated. Nothing good can come out of Nazareth. What was happening in his mind, was he was saying, here's what I believe is true, and because I believe this, nothing else could actually counter that.
Today, one of the reasons that it's hard sometimes for people to grasp the objective nature of faith is because, what they tend to do is they tend to say, "Well, I am a person of science, and we all know that miracles don't happen therefore, I can't believe in a miraculous faith." Or "I don't like that there's an exclusivity to the claims of Christianity that say that you have to believe in Jesus, because there's good people all over the world. So it just can't be true this way." Or "I don't like some of the moral absolutes that come from a Christian faith therefore, I choose to believe in a God that doesn't have any moral absolutes."
What happens when that's ... the approach that is taken is that we just privatize faith to meaning whatever we want it to mean, and it's not part of an objective reality. But most people today, would say, "But here's what I do affirm and that is, there's value to every person." But you know where that comes from? It comes from a belief that all people were created in the image of God. And by being created in the image of God, every person has worth and dignity and deserves to be treated as a person with worth and dignity.
You see, even some of the things that we want to affirm in our culture are rooted in this objective reality of faith. So when we say faith should be private, or the notion is faith should be private, what it does is it says, "You just believe whatever you want, you have your own values, your own beliefs rooted in whatever you want. But in order to have any cohesiveness there has to be a sense of an objective reality that says, "We believe in something that isn't just private, but it's rooted in something that I can see and believe."
Now, this doesn't mean by the way that our faith doesn't have a subjective or personal component to it. Verse 49 of the same section, says this ... Actually, I'll start in verse 47: Nathaniel verse 46 asked, and about can any good thing come from Nazareth. And Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathaniel approaching, he said of him, "Here truly is an Israelite, in whom there's no deceit." some version say, no guile.
For years that the way this has been interpreted as is as Jesus saying, "This man has no falsehood in him." Now that would be countered by the way to the general teaching of the Bible, which is all of us have a deceptive heart. So Jesus could have just been speaking in general terms, like this guy's generally honest. But some commentators have looked at this and said that may be what's happening is that Jesus is saying this is Nathaniel, and Nathaniel says what's on his mind. Even sometimes to a fault as a way to understand this. That may or may not be true, but if you go with this, then Nathaniel says to Jesus, "How do you know me?"
So he says, "How do you know or understand who I am?" Jesus answered, "I saw you while you are still under the fig tree before Philip called you." Then Nathaniel declared, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel." So what was it that happened under this fig tree that helped Nathaniel to say, oh, my goodness, I'm known by this rabbi, this teacher this Jesus?
Well, the short answer is, we don't know, because that's all we're told it. What could have been is that the fig tree was a symbol of their nation at the time, and he may have been having nationalistic thoughts. But in the flow of the passage, what's probably likely is that Nathaniel went out to sit and to contemplate his life when he was under the fig tree. Something with this phrase, here's a man with whom there is no deceit, no guile, another word, somebody who says what's on his mind, and he's sitting there thinking about maybe how he hurt somebody, how he did something, and Jesus says, "I knew you when you are under the fig tree. That's how I know who you are."
Here's the subject of peace of faith. That is faith isn't just simply saying, I affirm a group of facts, or I affirm some doctrine or I affirm an objective reality. But it becomes subjective in that when we come to know who Jesus is, what happens is, we realize that we are somebody who is known fully and accepted fully simultaneously. This is what the gospel is. This what I think happened to Nathaniel here. Where he says, "You know what, you actually know me, you actually accept me, therefore, I see things differently." I have a chart here, I think it is just to show kind of how this works.
So on the kind of up and down access is the level of being known or unknown, and on the right left access is the level of being accepted or unaccepted. What happens is when we're known and unaccepted, we feel rejection. When we're unknown, an unaccepted, we feel unfairly judged. You probably felt that. When we're unknown and accepted, it feels like cheap love, like somebody knows us, but they don't really know us. But they tell us how great we are. But when we're known, and we're accepted, we feel genuine love.
Here's the subjective experience of the objective reality and that is the personal nature of faith to say, you have faith, it is your own, but it isn't yours alone. It's based on an objective reality, but it's still an experience that says, "When I come to know who Jesus is, I realized that he has seen me at my worst, he's seen all of my flaws, whatever it is that I do, or think in private and yet he still loves me enough to say, "I'm going to the cross on your behalf." I believe that that's what happened for Nathaniel in this moment.
There was a blog that somebody wrote or an article just this last week. Lady's name is Kelly Larkin, and it was titled The Quiet Sorrow of an Internet Blogger. In it, what she basically said is, is that her life feels difficult for her because she feels like she's always sharing opinions, little parts of herself. People who don't know are always judging her, and the people who feel like they get to know her often, and her opinions don't accept her. So she feels this trauma from how much of herself to share, how is she accepted or not accepted.
Here's what's probably true for most of us, and that is we crave the places in this world where somebody knows us and somebody loves us. You get those experiences in human relationships once in a while, sometimes for a long time, sometimes little windows, and they are some of the sweetest experiences in your life. But when you don't have those experiences, what happens is then you feel very much like it's cheap love or rejection, or you feel a sense of just being unfairly judged.
There's an old song that I think George Strait made popular years ago and listen to these words it's a breakup song where he's been broken up with, and he's writing to his old girlfriend, wife whatever in the story or singing to her.
He didn't write the song, but here's here's what it says, Baby since you left me, there somebody new she thinks I'm perfect I swear. She likes my body my class, and my charm, she says I've got a confident air. She respects my ambitions. Thinks I'm talented too, but she's in love with an image that time is bound to see through. Oh you know me better than that. You know the me that gets lazy and fat, how moody I can be, all my insecurities. You've seen me lose all my charm. You know I was raised on a farm." It's country song, they had to get that in there somewhere. "Oh, she tells her friends I'm perfect, and that I love her cat, but you know me better than that."
Do you hear the longing in the song? Do you hear what he's saying? The reason that I sometimes read popular songs are like poetry in our day. But what is expressed, and maybe what people liked about that is, there's somebody who knows me when I lose my charm. There's somebody who knows me when I get lazy and fat knows that I don't like cats, and yet you still accepted me. Now, obviously, they've broken up, so the acceptance went away, but he's longing for it. He's saying, "This is what I want." Here's the experience that you have when you come to Jesus is that, it doesn't go away. You're not broken up with ... There's no end point to it.
But if it isn't based on an objective reality, that kind of subjective reality will be what you can trump up and say, "I believe in it. But because it's based on an objective reality, it's bigger than just my desire that it'd be so what happens is all of a sudden, I can say that is true, regardless of how I feel." That's not private faith, that faith is your faith, but it isn't yours alone.
So, that's one piece of this. Here's a second kind of idea. That is faith is experienced in community.
Here's what we see verse 35, the next day, John was there again with two of his disciples. So there were a couple people together. Verse 37, when the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus, and so there were a couple of them that came together with him. Verse 38, 39, turning around Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?" They said, "Rabbi," which means teacher, "Where are you staying?" "Come and you will see," he replied. So Jesus invited these people into relationship with Him. His call to say, "Come follow me," wasn't just you follow me on your own terms, it was come together and live part of your life with me and let your life be shaped by me in community and together we'll represent something.
Verse 41 gives again, the same idea. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon, and to tell him. Then verse 45, which we've already looked at in part, it's when Philip found Nathaniel and told him we have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets wrote about. What happens in each of these instances is you see that faith has a communal aspect.
Again in our culture, the way faith is seen is you do faith on your own, and it isn't about community. You believe what you believe, you believe it in isolation, you think about it in isolation, you come to your own values and then you go live them yeah, you can express them, just don't tell anybody else how to live it. But in the New Testament, what we see over and over again is that faith was communal. This is part of why church and participation in a church, family, life group, some of those things are important because they give you a place to not just simply say, "I just do life my own way, but I'm part of a community." What marks it is when people say I'm following the one who is objectively true is given me a subjective experience of my own faith, is that then you have the experience of being able to say, "This isn't just my own. It is mine alone, but it isn't mine without anybody else."
In other words, I own it, but it isn't just mine. You can see this sometimes with being a fan of something. If you're a fan of a sports team or a musical group, what happens with that? Well, you can enjoy it by yourself for a while, but if you really enjoy following one of those things, what do you long for? You long to be able to share your opinion about what the Pens need to do to have a better playoff run, or a better chance to make the playoffs than not with some other people who care about it. You enjoy watching, exalting it with other people. Or if there's a band that you love, what do you do? You can't wait to say, "Hey, there's a new drop of a recording that's coming out from them this week. Let me tell you about it," or to share it with somebody.
You see, we are shaped by other people. The significance of that is, when Jesus says, "Follow me," and he invites a group into it, what he's doing is he's saying, "This is a community event." Really, if you think about it, almost everything meaningful in our lives has some element of community in it.
Now, certainly when we isolate, there are some negatives, we lose some of the joy we lose the ability to be shaped by others. So it's important when we think about faith that we realize that faith is again, not something that we just say this, I do an isolation, but we can say, faith is my own, but it isn't mine alone.
Then we see this third idea, and that is faith is pervasive in its impact.
So to the idea of our culture that says this is your own interpretation, we say this faith is rooted in objective reality. To the idea of the culture that says faith is basically lived in isolation or in an independent way, we say, no, it's experiencing community into the idea that says, Faith is private. It doesn't have any space in the public arena. We say faith is pervasive in its impact and here's where we see this. Several places. Verse 42, Jesus looked at him and said ... This is when he was calling Peter to himself who had the name Cephas. He says, "You are Simon, the son of Jonah, you will be called Cephas." Which is translated Peter. So Simon gets renamed to Peter, to Cephas. It's Jesus way of saying I'm going to give you a new identity.
This is maybe one of the most significant things that we see here because what happens for many of us when it comes to faith is we say, "Well, faith is something I believe, it gives me a little bit of informing of how I think, or do life." But here what Jesus does, he says, I want you to see that faith actually will revolutionize everything about how you live. Because you're going to have a new identity, you're going to see things differently, you're going to interrelate with things differently.
Here's how we see this play out with others in this passage. The first thing verse 41 that Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, we found the Messiah. So what does he do? He says, I'm going to tell somebody else about this because this is so important.
There was an article in Christianity Today recently that said, 47% of church going millennial's, so it's a certain age demographic, people who actually literally go to church say that it is wrong to try to tell somebody else about Jesus, to evangelize. To do what's happening here to say, "I follow Jesus. Now, I want somebody else to understand and to follow Jesus." But what you see in this passage is that it was so pervasive, it wasn't a strategy. They didn't need a class. They didn't need something to do it, it was just we found him, and we want other people to find him. So what do they do? Verse 44, they declare who he at points, they say ... 44 and 45, Philip found Nathaniel and told him, "We found the one," Verse 41, "We have found him" or there's invitation, this little phrase, Jesus when He says, "Come, and you will see."
Then again verse 46, where this is replicated. Nathaniel asked, and then Philip said to him, "Come and see." Here's what is significant about this: Is that the idea of saying this is pervasive, or its public and its nature doesn't mean that you have to interact with everybody, convince everybody of your views. But it means that there's a place, and a time to say, this is so significant to me that I'm going to say, "Here's the Jesus that I've come to believe in," or I'm going to invite other people and say, "Just come and see, just come and experience this."
What you see in this section, is that each of the people who are named, you can see this, if you go through might be a great activity in your life group. What they did is they endorsed Jesus to somebody in a different way. One of the things that happens as you have a faith that you say this isn't going to be just confined to a private box, you'll find yourself in places where you will have an opportunity to say, "I want to endorse Jesus through declaration or invitation to others."
I had a friend remind me just recently about something that I've heard, and I've probably taught it different times. But it's what some scholars have called the creation mandate. That when God created the earth and placed Adam and Eve in the garden, that he said, I want you to go forward, and I want you to subdue and rule this place. The idea is that the, the call for human beings is to help make things thrive.
See, what happens sometimes is we get so caught up with this idea of saying that there's a secular and a sacred, then I go to work and then I have to find a way to do "Evangelism." Rather than saying, you know what, my call, if I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, if I'm somebody who says, I follow this Jesus is to say, How can I make the world thrive? How can I make it better where I am and well doing that either point people to Jesus or endorse Jesus in a way that they would say, "Maybe there's something to this Jesus that I've missed."
But so often what happens instead is, as people interact with the world, they say, "My job is to convince everybody that every last view of mine is right rather than saying, I point people to the one who is ultimately able to bring some transition into their lives, my life as he has.
So what this points to is, if you're somebody who says, faith should be about what each person thinks, I just want to encourage you to consider this idea that it's based on an objective reality. If you're somebody who says, You know what, I just do my own thing, I don't need any community. I would encourage you just to say, "Who are the people that could help shape the way that I think and feel and experience these grander themes?" If you're somebody who says, "You know what, I just keep my faith to myself, I don't want anybody to be offended." Maybe just maybe, for you to consider what would it mean to help the world thrive and to endorse Jesus, in the environments in which you live and move.
If you're here, and you're in middle school, high school student, one of the best things ... Young adult, one of the best things you can do in your public settings is to be out there with your faith. Now, I don't mean out there as in of obnoxious out there. You know what I mean when I say obnoxious out there? There is of obnoxious out there, but what I mean is to let people know where you stand. I'm not naive ... maybe I'm naive. I was going to say I'm not naive. I'm not naive enough to not know that there's a price to pay when you do that. But there will be people who will say, you're like that person from Nazareth, your backwoods, you're narrow, you don't get it you're unsophisticated, you're judgmental. Like I know that that's how this plays.
But part of being public with your faith is living in such a way that you say I actually believe in the subjective reality. I've had this that this transition for me that Jesus has done because I know what it is to be known and accepted, and therefore I can know and accept people while still saying it's this Jesus that I believe in.
What that does is it creates a come and see culture. By the way, our mission at Orchard Hill is to help people find and follow Jesus Christ. You see the themes here: We found him, and come and see, and follow me, and and these themes are just woven in here where what is happening is those who say, "You know what I have come to see who Jesus is following him as best I can with my life. Say I want to help others find and follow this Jesus."
So it's faith private. It's personal. Faith is your own, but faith isn't yours alone. Because it's based on something more experienced with people, and it's meant because it's so pervasive, to push you back into the arena of the world to help others come to experience Jesus. Here's how this will really happen for you. If you leave here today and say, "I should do this," you'll miss it. Because the reason that you'll want to do this is when you experience the subjective reality that we were speaking about, where you say, I am known by this Jesus and I am loved in spite of whatever has happened under my own personal tree.
See, as you experienced that, what will happen is your heart will be so warm so transition that it will become a natural thing for you to say, "I want you to come and see. I want you to experience this God. I want you to know what I know, what I believe not because I have to convince you that I'm somehow right, but because it's so trans-formative." That's where we get the power to live into this kind of public faith.
Father, I pray today that you would help each of us who's here just to not by the narrative that says that our faith is to be so private, so personal, that we don't live it publicly. God, I ask that in that you would help each one of us to come to experience you subjectively, objectively, and that in that we would be changed. God for those who are here who may be say, "I'm not sure about what this means," I pray that there would be some clear next steps, whether it's just connecting with some of our volunteers and staff, and the gathering place, whether it's getting into a study, whether it's jumping into a life group and discussing these things because these are at the core of our own identity and the way that we live. So we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.