By Pastor John Skiles, Guest Columnist
I love to wear t-shirts that say, “I love my Church!” I think I own about four with that particular phrase and the logo of my church on it. But I want to kick off my writings by saying, “I love your church, too!”
Let me start this by giving you a confession that I feel like should be told by any pastor, or leader who stands, speaks, or ministers in the name of Christ. I am human! I make mistakes from time to time…and I love that about me. It creates more room to empty the parts of me I don’t like and fill them with Jesus. It is called grace, something we should all be so grateful for in our daily lives. Too many people in our day and age put their pastor on a pedestal. I can promise you, as much as you want him or her to be a superhero, the only thing that makes them super is Jesus! I want to share with you a very important aspect and truth that I feel moves the heart of God…we are to love one another like Jesus loves the church. We can’t forget that Jesus gave his very life for the church!
So, my story is in my pursuit of loving Jesus and serving Him. We feel like God called us to Destin to fulfill our callings as followers of Christ. Six years ago I moved to this coast with my lovely wife Sula, who is also a human tracking advocate and runs an organization called Take Flight which rescues young ladies, and young people in human trafficking situations.
Totally amazing! You will hear more about them on this coast in 2020! Small husband plug, I love my wife! So back to my story six years ago. We moved to plant what is now Impact Life Church, an amazing church by the way. If I didn’t love my church I would be in trouble!
We felt God leading us to Destin to help people find Jesus, community, and find purpose. It has been one of the most rewarding, and craziest experiences of my life! I have truly loved every second of it, and learned to celebrate wins in the midst of battles. I have learned love on the Emerald Coast and especially from all of the churches and ministries, and nonprofits. We have come to love fellow ministries and the way the people of God love each other on this coast. May we always move in UNITY because the word of God asks this of us. Jesus himself gave a command to His disciples to love one another.
John 13:34-35: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
As I read this scripture I love the simplicity that it brings and feel it states a command that actually “moves the heart of God,” which is a very important aspect and question to ask. When becoming a follower of Christ, what moves the heart of God? Unity in the body moves the heart of God. Jesus found it so important to share this foundational truth with the disciples shortly before He left the Earth. He taught them to Love one another, not something fake, or something phony, but true love!
So, to answer the question, “How will they know that Jesus is in them?” or know that they are followers of Christ? Answer: by how they treat one another. So, one of my goals has been, since I arrived on this amazing coast to always love my fellow brothers, and my fellow churches, and ministries here on the Emerald Coast! It’s funny every time my wife Sula and I pass one of the churches in this town we honestly throw a blessing to the church, the pastor, and it’s amazing people. I pray for God to continue to use them to bring life and hope to this great place we all call home! I even pray that they would ask me to dinner…I would go! Ha!
So, as we enter into 2020 and the month of February traditionally considered a time of “love” with Valentine’s Day, let’s not forget to pray for other churches, and other leaders, non-profits and other ministries. I’m going to go a step further: Show up and support each other once in awhile! Cheer each other on!! Celebrate the big wins! Never let the enemy allow us to compare, or gossip or even mention other ministries, pastors or churches without a life-giving statement behind it! You will find that God will allow others to bless us, as we bless others! Then the most important part of the truth that Jesus left with his disciples will happen in our daily lives! People who don’t know Jesus will receive him as they watch how we love others, support one another, and see God move in our great city!
So, to have a closing statement of this small truth that I get to share today, pray for someone outside of your circle, outside of your ministry and church! Build relationships and friendships and realize that we are all the body of Christ! Let’s raise the level of unity on our coast and love each other! Expand your circle of love!
I’m going to get a t-shirt that says, “I love YOUR Church!”