Rustlings (March 5, 2018)

I enjoy gathering. One of my favorite moments of every week is standing in the Narthex on Sunday morning and watching people flow into the Sanctuary, settling into their favorite pew. It’s why I encourage our new members to attend worship as often as possible. I love to see the church gathered. It’s why I love MidWeek Fellowship on Wednesday evening. People gather around the tables of our Fellowship Hall to share a meal and lively conversation. It’s why I love our annual church retreat. We huddle together in the relative seclusion of the YMCA’s Blue Ridge Assembly to study, pray, laugh, meet, think, dance, eat and deepen friendships. It’s why we all love parties, BBQ’s, holiday feasts, family reunions, class reunions, supper clubs and the like. I love to gather. We love to gather.

God is both a gathering and a scattering God. It was Jesus who taught us, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be present.” It was the writer of the Book of Hebrews who admonished, “Forsake not the assembling of your selves together.” We know God is a gathering God, but God is also a scattering God. If all we do is ‘hang out’ with each other and enjoy the warm fuzzies emitting from our mutual affections, we’ve missed the mission of God. Gathering feeds the community, but scattering feeds the world, so God scattered the people at the Tower of Babel. Jesus scattered his disciples throughout the Galilee. At Pentecost, the gathered and empowered believers were scattered into the regions of the known world. Jesus’ final instruction to his followers was, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations…” Don’t just gather…scatter.

Next Saturday, the typically gathered saints of First Baptist Greenville will scatter into our world. March 17 is our Operation Inasmuch day of service. We will scatter to multiple sites within our community to participate in God’s work. The truth is, we scatter every Monday after our gathering day of Sunday, and wherever we go, we are the hands of God and the face of First Baptist. I’ll be scattering with you Saturday…and gathering with you Sunday. It’s a joy to serve our gathering and scattering God.

— Jim