Food. It's a wonderful thing. Over the course of our lives, we develop quite an interesting relationship with food. We associate food with childhood memories, comfort, happiness, depression, and boredom. Sometimes, we even associate food with nourishment; giving our bodies that fuel it needs to function properly.
Living in St. Pete, you can find some pretty strong opinions about food. We've got so many amazing restaurants, and while there is nothing that is really defined as a "St. Pete food", what sets us apart from other cities is our variety of food options and our openness to new food concepts. As a result, you can step into any conversation around St. Pete, and there is no doubt that at some point, people will share their favorite restaurants, and possibly even get into an argument about which one is the best.
Like Asian food? We got that.
Love Italian? I can tell you about a few places.
Vegan? You got options here.
Need a taco? Oh, boy...I know just the place for you.
Need a mix of Mexican and Thai food? Let me tell you about your new favorite restaurant.
People are passionate about food and want to share that passion with anyone and everyone who will listen. People love food. And because of their love for food, they invite people to share in their experiences with food.
What if we were the same way about our love for Jesus?
I watched last week as thousands of utility trucks drove into St. Pete. They had a huge task in front of them. Over 1 million people were without power as a result of Hurricane Irma. These men and women were called to analyze the thousands and thousands of miles of electric lines that criss cross this city and figure out where the problems were. In a little over a week, they have fully restored power to this city.
What if we moved out into this city with the same kind of determination to restore love in St. Pete. What if 1 million people who have lost or never known the power of God were suddenly offered that power? What would it do to St. Pete? What would it do to the world?
What would it look like if such a restoration took place?
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
Have you and I fallen in love with Jesus? Are we as passionate about our relationship with God as we are about our relationship with food?
I know I struggle with it. I know it's much easier for me to start a conversation about food and invite someone to go out to eat than it is to start a conversation about God and invite someone to church.
I know I'd rather talk about California Rice Bowls than salvation.
But true nourishment doesn't come from food. It comes from a relationship with our creator.
Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
St. Pete is ripe for the harvest. People are seeking true love. People are seeking relationship. That's why there is so much to do here. People are looking for ways to connect, to be fulfilled, and to find happiness and joy.
But those things aren't found in the trendiest new restaurant. They aren't found in the next big food fad. They aren't found in yoga classes or painting parties, mud runs or biking clubs. They are found in a real relationship with God.
I'm not saying that going out to eat and enjoying recreational activities are bad. I'm just saying that none of those things are the source of real happiness and fulfillment. Jesus is the source.
Believer, you have been sent to plant and to harvest here, right where you are. Wherever you are, that is where God has called you to do his work.
We just celebrated our 3rd birthday as Radius Church. We are a people who are called to St. Pete. This is our launching point. This is our mission ground. This is where we have been placed by God to live out our mission to move out in ever-widening circles and change our world.
It has been an amazing ride. It has been far from perfect, but in our failures and imperfection, we have found a reliance on God to be our source and our guide. And as God has poured out his love, his grace, and his blessings on Radius, we have found the strength to do the same for others. And now we are being called to do more, to dream bigger, and to love stronger than we ever have before.
Let us find a new passion for our work here. Let us tap the nourishment that God offers through a deeper relationship with Jesus. And may that relationship compel us to reach out into this city and invite others into that same kind of relationship. May our love and our lives point people towards Jesus.
Your life matters. You matter! God has placed you here fore a reason. I can assure you that God loves you, despite what the world has tried to tell you, and despite what your circumstances have led you to believe. God loves you. He sees you right where you are and he wants to help you move through whatever it is you are going through. In your weakness and your failures, I hope you will lean in on God and allow him to work in your life. And through that, I pray that you will share your experience with others and use your story as a way to help bring others into a relationship with Jesus.
Gather with us this Sunday as we begin year four of Radius. In the mean time, invite someone who is searching for love to join you this Sunday.