This morning, I was reading Colossians 3. In verses 1-4 it says:  Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.

There is a story of a fourth-century church father John Chrysostom who denounced abuse of authority both by church and political leaders. This got him in all sorts of trouble and now he stood before Aelia Eudoxia, the Empress consort of the Byzantine Emperor Arcadius. She had the power to do with John whatever she willed. First she threatened him with banishment if he insisted on his Christian independence as a preacher.

            “You cannot banish me, for this world is my Father’s house.”

            “But I will then kill you”, said the empress.

            “No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” said John.

            “I will take away you treasures,”

            “No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there”.

            “But I will drive you away from your friends and you will have no one left.”

            “No, you cannot, for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me. I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to harm me.”

Our mission at the Heartland Vineyard Church is to equip an army of fully devoted disciples, who extend the Kingdom of God, as they experience and express the compassion and truth of the Lord Jesus.

Can you be a fully devoted disciple of Jesus Christ without the kind of freedom John Chrysostom had?   I don’t think so. But that kind of freedom comes not in trying to be devoted but in falling in love with Jesus.

As the Hymn goes:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

We are moving forward. God cannot be stopped. And we are intent on moving with Him, side by side, back to back in order to make Jesus famous in this city and in our time.