ENCOUNTER: Read Galatians 5:1-6
I know it is easy to assume that our church is rooted in the evangelical tradition. And in some ways, you are right to assume this. We are a church that is committed to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and his resurrection to our community, county, and into the whole world. But just because the feel of our church groups us with other evangelical churches, there is something deeper that has formed us. Our church, which is connected to a larger denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, was formed with a very distinct culture and that culture is alive and well here at Marin Covenant Church. That culture is the culture of pietism.
What drew the first Swedish immigrants together to form the ECC in the late 1800s was not their love of liturgy, not their love of dogma, but their deep love for Jesus. In fact, it is their heartfelt devotion to Jesus that became the unique marker of this pietistic movement.
Being a pietist means that at the foundation of your Christianity is a heartfelt devotion to Jesus. It is not a rules-based faith, not even a doctrine based faith. It is a faith that is formed and shaped by an intimate friendship with the God of the universe.
Because everything about a pietist is rooted in intimate relationship, there is freedom to express ourselves in a way that is uniquely you, to work our your faith, doctrine, and issues in a way and time frame that is uniquely yours, and to encourage one another to always be moving closer and closer to Christ, conforming our lives more and more into His image.
Just like this verse in Galatians says, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love. Love has to be the center of our faith, the center of our theology, and the center of how we live together. In fact, you can not love unless you are in a relationship.
Piety is our unique culture. It is the culture that Paul clarifies in his letter to the Philippians. It is also the culture that we long to live into here at MCC. It is the culture that compels us to keep a soft heart toward Jesus and toward each other.
A pietistic culture is actually much harder than being in a group of like-minded people. Agreeing on doctrine lifestyle is easy. That is how we get so many different brands of Christianity. We find like-minded people, and away we go. But pietism is different; we are a collection of like-hearted people. We are people who are sold out, passionately in love with Jesus and compelled by our love for Jesus to be kind and gentle, warm-hearted, and long-suffering toward those whom we have been given to walk this journey together.
May you embrace your pietistic heritage, and may your heart continues to be soft toward Jesus, toward our church, and toward one another.
Why is it harder to have a soft heart than have good theology? Why have we settled for that option? What can you be doing to keep your heart soft toward Jesus? The Church? Others? What sort of repair work/healing does God need to do on your heart? What do you need to forgive? Who needs to forgive you?
BE A BLESSING:
Who can you reach out to and extend warm-hearted friendship to? That's it, identify them, and then do it.
Welcome to the journey toward a life in Christ.