This past Sunday we received the reminder of the primary work of Immanuel: Believing in Jesus. Jesus’s words in John 6 to the crowds remain his words to us. Whether we’re talking about our personal sense of not doing or being enough, or talking about Immanuel as a community committed to the work of the Kingdom—doing enough for God—the King of that Kingdom, speaks these words: “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
A few years ago I came across a helpful description of what it means to believe in Jesus. It’s in a book titled The Shepherd’s Life, the autobiography of a man named James Rebanks in which he relates the story of his life as a farmer in the Lake District of England. He tells of how he has grown into the grueling and joyful commitment of a generations-deep way of life shaped by the land and labor of his ancestors. At one point in the book he visits his grandfather on his deathbed:
My grandfather is almost tender in a way I have never seen before. He looks scared and keeps looking at me as if to check I believed in all he’d worked for, but he didn’t need to worry. I did, and I still do.
When he looks into my face, we share a thousand unspoken thoughts about the farm and our family. In that moment I’m not just a grandson. I am the one who carries on his life’s work, I am the thread that goes to the future. He lives in me. His voice. His values. His stories. His farm. These things are carried forward. I hear his voice in my head when I do work on the farm. It sometimes stops me doing something foolish, and I pause and do it how he would have done it. Everyone knows he was a major ingredient in the making of me, and that I am the going on of him.
Our work is to help each other grow in believing in Jesus like this, reminding each other to come to Jesus and look into his face and accept in that moment that our desires and our agendas must be released so that we can receive his life, his voice, his values, his stories, is Kingdom – that these are the things to be carried forward into our day, into the Father’s future for Immanuel and for our neighbors.
Your Pastor in Christ,