Where does our Transformation, Inspiration and Calling come from?

April 26th

Transformed. Inspired. Called.

Where does our Transformation, Inspiration and Calling come from?
Hebrews 12:1-4

Fanosie LegesseFanosie Legesse, MCEC Intercultural Mission Minister - The book of Hebrew is one of the books of the Bible which eloquently argues that no one and nothing compares with Jesus. He is greater than all spiritual beings, historical religious leaders, and all political and economic leaders. The reason the writer gives is that Jesus is all in all to the highest level of perfection. He is the living God, the everlasting High Priest, eternal King and the Redeemer of humanity.

Hebrews 12:1-4 is a text where the author intensifies the exhortations woven in the previous chapters. The author uses running an agonizing race as a metaphor to describe the believer’s current situation. However, the emphasis of the text is on the active effort to never give up the race despite the agony. In other words, this is a call to carry one’s cross and walk to calvary where all that is against God’s eternal will is crucified.

As believers in all the local churches of Mennonite Church Eastern Canada, why should we persist on transforming our holistic being to fit the course instead of changing the course itself to fit our situations? Why are we intentional on being inspired to be strong and courageous to continue the journey despite the struggle to have consistency in our spiritual disciplines? Why do we believe that our covenant relationship with God and with each other is our calling in life not just temporary pledge?  Hebrews 12:1-4 gives us at least two answers. 

Let us be courageous children of God.

We belong to the company of the covenant people of God
Confidence in the incredible unseen reality of God is our DNA, our unchangeable make up, our identity. Our identification is with the eighteen people mentioned in chapter eleven and believers after them by virtue of our faith in Christ. We belong to the company of all the Old Testament and the New Testament believers who truly followed God. Indeed, we belong to the church fathers that never wavered from the way of Jesus even though they suffered a great deal under the roman empire. Our identity is interconnected to the Anabaptist believers who chose the way of discipleship, community of agape and peace with redeeming reconciliation of the world to God. These are signposts of the path of faith for us not to get lost at a messy and complicated intersections of life. Yes, we know that we are also part of the universal body of Jesus Christ that is being nurtured in every Christian denomination of the current world.

Therefore, we are like the ancestors of our faith. Following the ultimate example of this holy pilgrimage, we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to continuously transform our lives. We love to draw as much inspiration as we possibly can from the living stories of those who walked the same walk before us. We know that growing together to the likeness of Christ Jesus is not just a choice that has many similar choices, but the lifelong calling that God bestowed upon us. Let us be courageous children of God.

 We know the joy that comes from journeying together
The writer of Hebrews gives us a bird’s eye view of the tested faithfulness of those who went before us in chapter eleven. We know from the biography of the believes who decided to trust God that the reward is endlessly enjoying God’s presence like Adam and Eve in the garden. Jesus despised all the insult, spit, whipping, crown of thorn and ultimately the piercing of his body on the cross. People would have expected “an eye for eye” response from the creator of the universe. Instead, he prayed for the very people who hammered the stick of metals through his hands and feet. He begged forgiveness, “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”. Why? Because he clearly knew the greatness of the joy that comes as the result of this agony. He is calling us to join him in this joy inducing suffering.

Let us renew our covenant with God and each other as we stay on the path to the heavenlies together.

I got the privilege to see the spiritual courage believers showed under great persecution and suffering During the communist regime in Ethiopia. Abebe was a great friend of my grandfather who declared his faith in Christ to everyone he met without hesitation. He was over 70 years old when he joined the local Meserete Kristos Church. He wasn’t even a year old in his new faith in Christ when the militias of the government handcuffed him and dragged him on rural road as the villagers were watching. They did this because he refused to recant his faith in Christ publicly. He proclaimed loudly, “My Lord Jesus, I greatly rejoice that you have given me the joy of sharing your suffering. Now I understand what you have done for me on the cross even better”. His courage to withstand such a suffering and to grow in faith was a great boost for our transformation, invaluable source for our inspiration and unending fuel for us to keep on going on the track of our calling.

Therefore, it is a high time for us to take our faith seriously and take a genuine look at the story of our biblical faith community, the early church leaders, and the Anabaptist covenant community of the past. Consequently, we choose to live a life of constant transformation, unceasing inspiration and filled with courage to stay strong in our calling. Let us renew our covenant with God and each other as we stay on the path to the heavenlies together. The Holy Spirit is faithful and gentile to walk along side of us.

Fanosie Legesse encouraged and challenged those gathered at the Annual Church Gathering 2023.

Hebrews 12:1-4

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding
its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

New Living Translation