“Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.“ 1 John 5:5

I was chatting with a friend and three of my friend’s friends last week. The conversation centered on their church. Their church is a local church. More than anything else we talked about the compelling reality that is the local church.

Placed in neighborhoods to tell people about Jesus Christ. How their church is uniquely located to serve the cause of Jesus Christ and expand the reach of the gospel into their community. And how they should have great confidence as they lead their church.

It’s really amazing to be part of the only institution in the world that is committed, in the purest sense, to: redemption, forgiveness, repentance, restoration, hope, grace, love, mercy, peace, refuge, good living, fidelity, identity, reconciliation, equality, joy, celebration, accountability, growth, healing, eternity, the arts, beauty, life, faith, service, patience, kindness, goodness, self control, gentleness, Spirit directed, community, every tongue, every tribe, every nation, the poor, the disadvantaged, the forgotten, the lost, good thinking, encouraging ... we could go on and on.

In fact, I invite you to add to the list.

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Paul writes: “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil …” 2 Timothy 2:22-24

Jesus said, in Matthew 13:24-30, that we shouldn’t be afraid of the weeds that grow around us, that we should be concerned about the wheat and that at the harvest the weeds and the wheat will be separated.

We live in the space in which we live. The church has always existed in this tenuous yet ultimately victorious space in which we faithfully proclaim Christ until he returns. That no matter what the space around us wants us to believe, the local church that follows Jesus is a sentinel of hope.

And that makes me smile.

John Just is the pastor at Timberwood Church in Nisswa.