We want to see flourishing of all God’s people in our church. That’s really important, because that is the will of God for us to flourish. I love the term “flourishing” because it is holistic. It resembles “prosperous”. We have plenty of scriptures on these. Jeremiah 29: 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” This is a common theology especially by Tim Keller on living for the city, loving the city that God puts you in. Remember God doesn’t prosper you and stops there, but for showing his glory and touching lives. And then we have this famous verse that everyone loves to quote: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Sure, this is our God. He loves to prosper us but he wants us to be in his plan of loving the city. Reading the City of God by Augustine (difficult read) will open your mind to a thousand concepts of the city of God that you never had before. Chinese people love the word prosper, as we often say A Happy prosperous Chinese New Year. Why? Because it denotes finance, money. But God’s prosperous is multi-dimensional, goes far beyond money, but to the joy of our souls, and the well being of the community, the city.
First of all we need to define flourishing. My concept is it has to be God centered and not you centered. Actually, when you are God centered in your life, giving glory to him, and honoring and loving him first and foremost, we find we flourish in the midst of it. As Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches, abide in me and you will bear fruit”. Without Christ, we will wither. John 15: 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Now a really important statement is this” God is good”. This is fundamental to all human endeavors and human flourishing. That’s why it has to be God centered. Psalm 118: 1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
15 Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
Recognizing and remember that God is good is absolutely vital in our existential living, because that has to fill our hearts and souls. It’s the goodness of the Lord that sustains us, protects us, guides us, as we cry unto the Lord when we are in need, and book of psalm is full of that. Today, countless Christians can testify to the goodness of God in their physical healings, emotional healings restoration, financial deliverance and so forth. The danger is that we must not turn God into a vending machine, as in the prosperity doctrine. We must love the Lord with all our hearts and minds, and that becomes easy when we remember his goodness, faithfulness, and steadfast love. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
If you meditate on this statement, it brings smile to your face no matter how you feel at the moment. It’s actually very therapeutic. Why is that so? Because scripture says all good things come from the Father in heaven. The world may give you some good shots, but none of that is going to stay. They will evaporate real soon. But God’s goodness is eternal. Which one do you want?
Heb 1 (ESV) “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”
There are many hurting people in the world, and they need help. They need healing, emotionally, physically, spiritually as God does want us to flourish. We are not saying we will all be happy all the time, as there will be time for sorrows, repentance, mourning as well as rejoicing, exultation, and shouts of joy. But there has to be an internalization of scriptures in our hearts souls so as we can live out our theology, and the truths in scriptures. This will mean overcoming sins, persecutions, temptations and embracing community love and forgiveness. And also helping out folks facing problems in their lives in this broken world, by deeds and scriptural renewal of lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What better environment we can offer to attract folks to join our church? Like in Acts 2 new ones are being added daily to the earliest church in Acts 2 because the presence of God is real, people love and are committed to the Lord and one another. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
When all these are happening we will see fruit, as we abide in our vine, our Lord Jesus. We look forward to building a flourishing God centered church.