IF gathering 2016

by Pat Riley-Sanderson

I gathered this weekend with women who crossed all boundaries of color, age, culture and even denomination to begin answering the question, what IF we lived, loved, prayed and served like Jesus.  It was called the IF gathering 2016 and we listened, prayed, worshiped and discussed through video presentation of an IF gathering of hundreds of women and our own assembly of Sisters in Christ at my own church, Pinellas Community Church. We began with praise and worship inviting Jesus into our space, lifting our voices in praise, love and awe of his power. We listened as the first speaker reminded us of who Jesus is.  In John 14:6 “Jesus answered I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  The note on this scripture from the NIV study Bible says Jesus is not one way among many, but the only way.  We Sisters in Christ discussed at our table answers to several questions including when did we first invite Jesus into our lives and what did we have to give up to be a child of God and a follower of Jesus. It was illuminated that we may have given up some but that Jesus gives us so much more than what we may have denied ourselves.

We listened to other speakers talk about the love of Jesus.  In John 15:12-13 Jesus says “My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus’ love for us is not ordinary, it is exceptional, it is not condescending or obligatory.  And as we demonstrate our love for those who are marginalized – the poor, those in prison, those who are labeled or lost, we may be hated. Jesus says in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

And lastly we learned that all of his teachings, who Jesus is , how he loves and serves us, is to redeem and transform us so that we too can be disciples for him. He wants us to be Jesus followers.  In the Great Commission, Jesus tells his 11 disciples who have seen him many times since his death and resurrection, who have witnessed his miracles and heard his word in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded…” What IF we as Sisters of Christ took up this mission to live like Jesus and because we know who he is and how he loves and how he hope for us, we are redeemed and transformed. We go then with the Holy Spirit guiding us and one by one we disciple to those who do not know Jesus. one person at a time affecting many nations.