St John Evangelical Lutheran Church

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by Joe Natwick, Associate Pastor God is always on the other side. The biblical evidence for this is vast: 1. In the beginning, when God was creating the earth, the sea, the stars, and all that exists, God created the other side in God’s image. In the image of God they were created. 2. After the fall, when the other side betrayed their loyalty and trust in God, God showed mercy to the other side by establishing covenants with them. God decided to work with the other side to spread God’s love to the world. 3. In pharaoh’s Egypt, God led the other side from slavery into freedom, from the desert into the Promised Land. God gave the other side what they always wanted: a placed they could call home. 4. After the other side was exiled and taken from their land, God remained with the other side and eventually God brought them back home. 5. Generations later, when the other side was in desperate need of a savior, God sent Jesus into the world to bring good news to the other side. 6. In the midst of brokenness and despair, Jesus preached, taught, and healed the other side, to give them hope that God was still with them and that God had big plans for their future. 7. When his time had finally come, Christ was hung on a cross for the other side. Christ died for the other side. Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven for the other side. 8. When Christ comes back, he will take the other side into his kingdom where there is no pain or sorrow, only the hope and love of God’s new creation. This all sounds familiar, right? It should. This is the story we love to tell! Of course whenever we tell it, we hear our story. We hear about God’s love for us. But how often do we picture those on the other side when we hear the good news of Jesus and his love? One of the most radical things Jesus did in his life was confronting the religious people of his day who believed God was on their side. They thought they were the “real” religious people. Because they said all the right words and did the right things, they thought they had earned God’s place on their side. So conversely, God couldn’t possibly be on the side of the blind, the lame, the lepers, the ritually unclean, the Samaritans, the poor, the tax collectors, or the criminals. Yet those were precisely the people Jesus brought his message to: the other side. I think it’s all too easy for Christians to use the Bible as another way to point fingers at the other side. So we read the Bible and identify with the wheat rather than the chaff, with the sheep rather than the goats. So we forget that Christ is on their side too, whoever “they” are. When our Facebook feeds, our social circles, and even our churches surround us with people who think, act, and talk like us, it is easy to think that our side is the righteous side. But the radical message of Jesus is that every side is made righteous through the cross. In this particularly divisive election season and in this cultural moment of division, anger, fear, and hatred, I’d invite you to read my bullet points above a few more times. But this time, try substituting groups of people that you don’t get along with for the words “the other side.” Maybe try Democrats or Republicans. Maybe try immigrants or refugees. You might be surprised to hear again Christ’s radically inclusive message about God’s love for all.

Staff Meeting Tuesday, Jan 18 @ 1:30 PM
Prairie Rose Chorus Tuesday, Jan 18 @ 5:30 PM
Call Committee Tuesday, Jan 18 @ 6:00 PM
Council mtg Tuesday, Jan 18 @ 7:00 PM

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St John Lutheran Church
146 6th AVE W
Dickinson, ND 58601

Phone: (701) 225-6747
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