What's it been like for you in this season of isolation?
Those of us who carry introverted tendencies, may find ourselves enjoying the time and space, while others - of the extroverted nature - are experiencing claustrophobia, as confinement and boundaries are put in place to limit our contact with others.
We may feel suffocated. We may feel liberated. We may find things to do around the house. We watch our worship services on the screen.
But this season is a stark reminder to us, of the value of human connection, no matter how much we can do on our beloved phones.
We are all participants in God's story of history, our quirks, passions and gifting are all orchestrated with creativity and beauty. Uniquely created in the image of the Father, believers represent His love and His mission. Each of our stories reflect His work of redemption and grace.
In Nancy Guthrie's new book, "Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus," she takes us into the lives of 10 different people we meet in the Gospels. She reminds us that, "some who claimed to be saints proved to be scoundrels...some who began as scoundrels were transformed into saints."
The power of God's work in our lives transforms us.
As we take a walk through the lives of these saints and these scoundrels, the journey points out for us two reasons that we value community:
1. To see Jesus more clearly
The whole of Scripture is meant to point us to Christ, and as we look at the people who surrounded Jesus, we are led to learn more about who He is, how He dealt with others and how He loved well.
~We meet the women in Jesus' genealogy, reminding us of the sexual scandals of the past: Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. The family of Jesus is made of people who come from less-than-perfect records.
~In the life of Peter, we see Jesus as the one who calls us to real change. He calls us.
~Through the life of the Pharisees, we are reminded that Jesus is the source of righteousness, not our practices, our good deeds or our appearance. We find our salvation in His works, not ours.
As we learn from the characters of Jesus' story, our eyes are opened to the possibility that Jesus is so much more than what we imagine. In the same way, we learn more about who Jesus is, from the lives of people in our communities.
Perhaps this is why testimonies are so powerful for us; beholding the wonders of God through their life and faithfulness, we view evidence of Jesus and His grace.
2. To see our own fears & failures
Looking upon the lives of others, it can be easy to choose the side of judgement. Yet, it also reveal to us our similarities. We too, struggle with sin, fears and failures. What is easy to diagnose in someone else, can be the same struggle we have but fail to see. We are reminded that to take the speck out of another's eye means we have to first take the log out of our own!
~John the Baptist struggled with doubt. After his short, dedicated ministry in the desert, he wondered if Jesus really was the Messiah. We are prone to second-guess truth.
~A high priest who was more concerned about controlling people than extending mercy. We are prone to see things through our own eyes, rather than God's.
~The criminals who hung at Jesus' side who were unwilling, at first, to admit they were wrong. We are prone to avoid confession.
The lives of the people around us are messy, they are beautiful. We have much to learn from each other, and many ways we can grow through each other, if we allow ourselves. It means engaging in humility and growing in grace.
If you are interested in more about how these people point us to Jesus, pick up her book. Her hope in writing it is "that these saints and scoundrels will point you clearly and convincingly to the only hope for saints and scoundrels - Jesus Christ"
How have you experienced the value of community?
A big thanks to Netgalley and Crossway for an advanced reader copy of this book, and the opportunity to post an honest review!