This weekend Nazarenes from all across New Zealand descended on Auckland for our annual District Assembly. This is a time when leaders from every church gather for teaching, fellowship, decision-making, strategic planning, praying. . . and good clean fun! What a joy it is to reunite with fellow Nazarene brothers and sisters who are on the front lines, serving the Lord and his people in creative ways in their local context.
We were blessed to have our Asia-Pacific Regional Director, Mark Louw, and his family preside over the meetings and bless us with challenging preaching and discussion about how we are carrying out the mission of Christ in New Zealand. We were also blessed by the presence and preaching of our General Superintendent Dr. David Busic. I genuinely have great respect for these servant leaders in our church. They work tirelessly making tough decisions, providing guidance and empowerment to pastors and laity serving all across our region. It is no small task for these globe-trotters to travel to every single country in Asia-Pacific, sometimes multiple countries in a week, fighting jet-lag and fatigue and constantly adjusting to new cultural norms, all to serve The Good Shepherd by caring for his under-shepherds. What a job!
Dr. David Busic presented us with a wider perspective on what it means to truly extend "grace and peace" to those with whom we come into contact. The Apostle Paul often began his letters to fledgling churches (written while he was receiving hideous, inhumane treatment in a Roman prison cell) by offering "Grace and peace in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ." At its heart, grace is a free gift from God and thus extending it to another person really is like saying, "May the Lord treat you better than you deserve."
Likewise, "peace" is not the absence of conflict, but rather the presence of Christ. The real guts of the word peace are encapsulated in the word "shalom", which carries with it the idea of wholeness and completeness. Extending peace to someone is saying to them, "May the Lord put back together the broken pieces in your life."
So, to you who are reading this blog, I extend the cyberspace hand of Christian fellowship and say to you, "May the Lord treat you better than you deserve, and may God put all the broken pieces of your life back together."
Grace and Peace to you my friends.