The Joy of Christian Community
By Emily Cameron
Wow, much has happened since I last shared my thoughts with you all. As Julia mentioned in last week’s blog, it’s hard to fathom how quickly the time has passed as we begin the “lasts” of all things Capital Fellows––– it’s like the end of senior year all over again. I am struck by how much I have experienced alongside each of these people in such a short time, and it is sweet to ponder how God mysteriously orchestrates our lives in such a way that as He is weaving our individual stories, He is also threading them together with that of others. Though there have been challenges along the way (as there are in any season of growth) I truly believe I could point to a specific time or moment that each person in the program has been a part of God’s sanctifying work in my life.
Speaking of sanctification, this Wednesday evening, we had our second-to-last Life & Leadership session at Pastor David Stephenson’s house. We talked in-depth about the differences between justification and sanctification. Justification, the act of being made righteous and right before God, is once and for all for those who have faith and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Sanctification, the work of being made into the image of Jesus and growing in holiness, is the ongoing process of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As David shared, this distinction is critical to understand because it has implications for how we see our standing with the Lord and it dictates the motivation behind our behavior change. When we understand the beauty of justification and sanctification working alongside each other, we are able to walk in the freedom of our right standing with God and fervently pray for the sanctifying work of the Spirit to propel us towards further obedience and holiness. Rather than be a behavior change that seeks to earn righteousness, our behavior can change out of the security of our righteousness and an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Another theme that comes to mind as I reflect on this past week is the way generosity and hosting have the ability to cultivate and foster rich relationship. The sweet moments of doing life together were all borne out of an invitation to sit around a table: Beginning Saturday evening with Caroline hosting us at the Moyer’s house while she dog-sat (don’t fret––they generously insisted she do so), followed by Sean and Kathy Clark inviting current and past fellows to their house one last time before their big move, to Lauren Stephens hosting the girls for Monday morning brunch, all the way to John and Shirley Kyle opening up their home for a long-standing fellows tradition of watching the NCAA championship game together (Wahoowa! Or whatever you Cavaliers say). Lastly, I can’t forget David and Kelly Stephenson who hosted us with dessert, coffee and open arms for our Life and Leadership gathering. I am overwhelmingly grateful for these invitations and displays of love that allowed me to relish in the fruit and privilege of Christian community. As Bonhoeffer says in his book, Life Together, Christian community is a gift and not to be taken lightly:
...if there is so much blessing and joy even in a single encounter of brother with brother, how inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians! -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer
As I look ahead to the remaining weeks of the Capital Fellows program, I would ask, on behalf of the fellows, for prayer for the following:
Endurance to finish our last month strong and continue to fight to rest IN God’s Word as the busyness of job search and final class papers compete for our time.
Gratitude for all the people that have invested in our lives inside and outside of the Capital Fellows program. Also, a handful of fellows have accepted some exciting job opportunities! Thank you, Lord, for your kind provision and for all the support for all who have been a part of helping make that happen.
Rest in God’s sovereign and loving character as we come to the close of one chapter and prepare to enter the next (shoutout to Bill Clark’s class for forcing us to wrestle with what we think the Bible has to say about God’s sovereign will in our lives, especially as we make decisions).
Alas, it is time to close. I’ll finish with one of my favorite verses in light of running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler this past Sunday morning with Capital Fellow brother, Russell, and Fellow sister, Katy
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. -- Hebrews 12:1-2
Pictures from the Week