Monday Reverb – 01May2023


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This week, we mark the fourth Sunday of Easter.  In this season, we focus on what it means to live in the reality of Jesus, our risen Lord.  Among many other things, he has revealed himself to be a gentle caregiver and guiding light.

The theme for this week is Jesus is our shepherd and guardian.

The selected passages are Psalm 23:1-6, John 10:1-10, Acts 2:42-47 and 1 Peter 2:19-25.

  • In arguably the most famous Psalm, David identifies the Lord as his shepherd.
  • In John, Jesus reveals that he is the means by which sheep can find safety, nourishment, and abundant life.
  • In Acts 2, we see the way in which a community cared for and nurtured by Christ behaves.
  • In 1 Peter, we read how to bear up under suffering by relying on Jesus, the shepherd and guardian of our souls.



  • Title:  Empty Tomb and Open Gate
  • Presenter:  Jeff Broadnax, GCI Pastor
  • Keynote Passage:  John 10:5-10


From the transcript:

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Easter Sunday, one of the most significant days in the Christian calendar. Many of us likely spent a lot of time hearing about and meditating on the Empty Tomb. This is good because the Christian faith is based on the fact that Jesus is not dead — his tomb is, indeed, empty. Jesus is alive and we are reconciled to God and each other because of it.

The Empty Tomb means that our sins have been forgiven and that humanity has been made new in Christ.   As Christians, we should give a lot of our attention to the empty tomb.  The empty tomb helps us understand Jesus referring to himself as the open gate.

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus describes himself as the gate by which the sheep can find pasture.  In the parable, those who follow Christ are his beloved sheep. The passage says:

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.   John 10:7-10

In this season of Easter, let’s focus on what it means to live in the reality of Christ’s resurrection.  In other words, we have an opportunity to give our attention to why we were saved, and how we are being invited to respond to God’s gift of grace.  According to this passage, part of the reason that Jesus rescued and redeemed us is so we can experience a full, abundant life in him.

Jesus is depicted as the gate that leads to life and because of his sacrifice, the gate is wide open to all.  No matter our current circumstances, abundant life is available to us in Jesus.  This does not mean that our lives will be perfect once we start following him, however, it does mean that in every situation, Jesus will be with us and our relationship with him is the richest of blessings.

It also means that one day believers will experience eternal life — an existence where there will be no more pain or suffering and there will be rejoicing without end.  We have been saved by Jesus to live an abundant, full life in Christ — a life where Jesus fills all our moments with his life-giving presence.  The gate to this life has been opened wide by Christ when he left that tomb.  So what are we waiting for?   Let us not hesitate to run away from things trying to steal our joy and into Christ’s wide-open arms.  There he is offering us an abundance of forgiveness and love.

I’m Jeff Broadnax, Speaking of Life.


The Example of Christ’s Suffering

1 Peter 2:18-25 NRSV

In 1987, John Lewis was elected congressman from Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, and he served in the House of Representatives until he died on July 17, 2020. Lewis was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement and served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963-1966. He was a key leader of the March on Washington in 1963 and spoke at the historic event.

On March 7, 1965, Lewis was one of the leaders of a march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, Alabama to stand up for voter rights. As the 600 peaceful marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by a wall of state troopers and dozens of spectators holding Confederate flags. Alabama governor George Wallace had ordered the state police to “use whatever measures are necessary to prevent a march.” Despite the right to peacefully protest, the 25-year-old Lewis and his co-leader Hosea Williams were told by the troopers that the march was unlawful.

When the leaders tried to talk to the commanding officer to explain the group was within their legal rights, the troopers set upon the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized, including Lewis, who suffered a fractured skull in the brutal violence. March 7 is now remembered by many as Bloody Sunday. In speaking of his experiences in the Civil Rights Movement and the tragedy on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Lewis said, “I accepted the teaching of Jesus, the way of love, the way of nonviolence, the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. The idea that hate is too heavy a burden to bear…I don’t want to go down that road. I’ve seen too much hate, seen too much violence. And I know love is a better way.”

For many of us, this is a terrible and a beautiful story. It is terrible because John Lewis and the other citizens on the Pettus Bridge were unjustly brutalized by those who should have been protecting them. We lament the fact that the Civil Rights Movement was necessary and that racial inequities still persist. Yet, the story is a beautiful example of the power of the gospel. John Lewis suffered injustice at a level most of us can only imagine, yet he was convinced that Jesus showed us a better way. Lewis was transformed by Christ and rejected the way of anger, bitterness, and revenge. Instead, he chose to forgive because of who Jesus is and how he loved humanity.

It is hard not to marvel at John Lewis’ ability to love and forgive those who caused him to suffer. Truth be told, many of us will never experience true unjust suffering. Those in marginalized groups may have some regular experience with injustice; however, few will experience prolonged, persistent unjust suffering. At the same time, the majority of us are outraged by the slightest inconvenience. For flawed human beings, it is natural to wish harm on those who hurt us at some level, especially when our pain is caused unjustly. Think about your reaction the last time someone cut you off in traffic, rudely disagreed with you on social media, or blamed you for something you did not do. Was your response to lovingly forgive the one who wronged you? I would guess that most of us would say “no” to that question. Would you consider what happened to you true suffering on the scale that John Lewis experienced? I suppose most of us would say “no” to that question as well; however, even minor slights can cause us to feel something like suffering. And it is difficult to move past those feelings to find the better way John Lewis spoke about.

As Christ-followers,

  • how are we to love our neighbors, even those who treat us unjustly?
  • How can we keep minor slights and inconveniences in perspective?
  • How do we forgive those who cause us to suffer?

There are no easy or quick answers to these questions.  At the same time, we know that in order to find the way forward, we need to turn to Jesus. In this season of Easter, we remember that Christ came to heal our brokenness and to show us how to live in a world that sometimes causes us to suffer.  In the first epistle of Peter, we read:

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.  For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.  If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that?  But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,

and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 

When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.  For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.  (1 Peter 2:18-25 NRSV)

For many of us, this passage can cause discomfort, which can get in the way of us understanding what Peter is trying to help us understand.  First, Peter addressed this section of his letter to people who were enslaved, including those harshly treated by their masters. While slavery in ancient times was far less brutal, not race based, usually temporary, and with other key differences from slavery in America, the idea that enslaved people were told to endure unjust beatings does not sit well with most of us.  Second, verse 21 suggests that his audience was called to suffer.  Is Peter suggesting that it is the will of God for some people to suffer in slavery?  Finally, Peter talks about the heinous treatment Christ endured to set us free.  As people who love Jesus, it is hard to think about the particulars of Christ’s suffering.  While we know he suffered and died for us, dwelling on the details of his pain can make many of us uneasy.

We will talk about each of the challenging aspects of this passage so we can learn what wisdom Peter may be passing on to us.

Challenging aspect #1  Peter addressed this section of his letter to people who were enslaved, including those harshly treated by their masters.

To start, let’s look at how Peter approached the evil of slavery. Many critics of the Bible cite the book’s implied sanction of the institution of slavery as a reason to distrust its authority. While we do not have time to fully discuss this complex topic, we can talk a bit about the context for the New Testament writers.

In the first century, the survival of Christianity depended, in part, on Rome’s view that the Jesus movement was a peaceful sect of Judaism. Rome tolerated the Jewish religion because the stable economy of Israel provided a substantial tax base. Christianity could not be distinguished as an independent “nation” for taxation purposes. For these reasons, the full weight of the Roman Empire would come down the on fragile, emerging church. To that end, the New Testament writers were careful not to write things that could be perceived as upsetting the social status quo. At the same time, they could not turn a blind eye to the exploitation of God’s children. So, both Peter and Paul, the two New Testament writers who directly discussed slavery, laid the moral and spiritual foundation for the destruction of slavery without openly challenging the institution. A careful reading of the Bible will show a strong anti-slavery position that manifests itself by attacking the reasons why one person would enslave another.

Peter compared the suffering of people in slavery to the sufferings of Jesus Christ the Lord.  This was a radical and disruptive idea.  At that time, most people linked financial prosperity with righteousness.  It was thought that a person who owned slaves was more blessed, and therefore more righteous, than the person who was enslaved.  Slavery was seen as a fair economic solution to the problem of people not being able to pay their debts, so slave owners were looked upon with favorPeter turned the institution of slavery on its headHe called the enslaved person blessed for their endurance of an unjust institution.  He said this after instructing his listeners to honor everyone, especially the family of believers (vv. 16-17).

While the language of the passage was directed to Peter’s enslaved listeners, it seems equally aimed at the believing slaveholders.  In essence, the apostle is saying that the Christians who enslaved others were making those who are made in God’s image suffer as Christ suffered.  How Christian masters should respond was not openly articulated by Peter, but the message was obvious.

Peter’s approach to slavery tells us something about God.  God is not blind to injustice and our suffering.  In fact, The Easter Season reminds us of the lengths to which God will go to end injustice and suffering.  In Peter’s time, slavery was an accepted institution.  Yet, God saw slavery as unjust and worked to bring an end to itSimilarly, God is neither unaware nor idle in the face of the injustice we experienceIt is outside of God’s nature to ignore injusticeHowever, he may address it on a level we may not immediately perceive.

God is not a legislator. He does not address evil by changing laws.  He addresses evil by changing hearts and minds  He has a long view of history, and his plans are bigger than our personal story.  Yet, he promises that our individual experiences are important, and he will balance the scales of justice in this life or the nextPart of the gospel message is that Jesus Christ is the beginning of the end of all injustice (Luke 4:16-21).  We can have the hope that evil can only triumph for so long.

Challenging aspect #2  1 Peter 2:21 suggests that his audience was called to suffer.  Is Peter suggesting that it is the will of God for some people to suffer in slavery?

So, what about the harsh treatment and the implication that the enslaved Christian was called by God to endure?  On face value, it may seem like God’s will for the enslaved Christian was to suffer and the Creator overlooked the abuse visited upon his creationHowever, Peter says three things that show that these are not the messages we should take away from this passage.

  1. He called upon enslaved Christians to accept the authority of their masters (1 Peter 2:18), but he did not tell them to accept the unjust treatment.  Rather, he told them to endure (1 Peter 2:19-20) the harsh treatment, which implied the abuse would be ended at some point.
  2. He encouraged his enslaved listeners to follow Christ’s example and entrust themselves to the one who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).  This suggests that God the Father sees perfectly, and he is the ultimate judge.
  3. Peter referred to Jesus as the shepherd and guardian of their souls (1 Peter 2:25).  Not only does Jesus guide his followers but he protects them.  As a shepherd and guardian, He acts to eliminate threats to his sheep and no one or nothing can withstand him.

Putting all of these pieces together, Peter was exhorting his audience to turn to Christ when experiencing injustice, rather than trying to address it in their own strength.  Putting their faith in God was not an acceptance of the injustice.  Rather, it was an act of faith that God would perfectly judge and make things right, one way or another.

If anyone doubts God’s commitment to our individual and collective well-being, Christ’s death and resurrection provide evidence of the lengths God will go to heal our brokenness.  This is important for us to keep in mind.  Whether it is a minor slight or true injustice, our natural tendency is to turn within — towards our own pain.  We want to stop the harm being done to us and make sure it does not happen anymore.  We make judgements and decisions from a place of hurt, which hampers us from seeing clearly.

As Christ-followers, we can pursue a better way like John Lewis said.  Instead of turning towards our pain, we can turn towards God and lay our pain at his feet.  In Christ, God showed his willingness to bear our pain.  We can tell him what happened to us and how we feel, and then listen for his response.  If we experience a minor slight or inconvenience, God will bring our situation into perspective.  He will reveal character failings in the ones who harmed us and in ourselves.

God causes us to have compassion for our neighbor and view them through his eyes.  Oftentimes, we find ourselves praying for those whom we were intent on accusing.  If we experience true injustice, God will give us the strength to endure in love.  He will cause us to pray like our Lord, “Father forgive them because they do not know what they are doing.”  On some occasions, God may have us take steps to directly address the injustice; however, he will transform our hearts so our motivations are love and reconciliation.  Other times, he will call on us to pray and trust him to bring an end to our suffering in the best way possible. In all cases, when we bring our hurts to the throne of grace, we are greeted with empathy and understanding.  We are not made to feel shame for our emotional wounds. Instead, God suffers with us and brings healing to each and every injury.

Challenging aspect #3   Peter talks about the heinous treatment Christ endured to set us free.

Finally, it may be hard for us to read about the sufferings of Jesus, and the brutal details may make us uncomfortable.  The temptation to turn our eyes away from violence is understandable; however, meditating on the suffering of Jesus is essential for those who seek to follow him.  This is why we celebrate the Easter season.  Christ’s scourging and crucifixion prove that God is well acquainted with sorrow and suffering, and nothing we may experience is outside of his understanding.  Also, when God asks us to endure the suffering we experience in this life, he is not asking us to do anything he has not already done for us.  In fact, Christ has endured more for us than we can possibly imagine, which helps put our present troubles into perspective.

Looking at the suffering of Jesus is necessary for Christians because it is what makes forgiveness and reconciliation possible.   As we look at the price he paid to forgive all sin, it is difficult to argue that we cannot forgive our neighbor’s sin against usChrist died horribly to forgive our neighbors.  Therefore, as his followers, we too should turn to God to empower us to love, forgive, and reconcile.

In this world we will suffer.  Perhaps we will not experience anything like John Lewis and others experienced on the Pettus Bridge.   However, we will all suffer hurts and injustice.  The good news is that Christ has overcome the world.  God is not blind to injustice, and he promises to bring all things to their just end.  He sees our pain and he acts on our behalf.  Our job is to trust him — to turn to him instead of our hurtHe is our shepherd and our guardianHe leads and protects, and his ways are perfectLet us all challenge ourselves to follow the way of love in all circumstances.  Let us challenge ourselves to be like Christ even in our suffering.





The GCI Statement of Beliefs

Christians are exhorted to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). The Spirit of God leads the church into all truth (John 16:13).  Accordingly, the following statement of beliefs is not a closed creed. GCI constantly renews its commitment to truth and deeper understanding and seeks to respond to God’s guidance in its beliefs and practices.

Summary of Our Christian Faith

  • There is one God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • God the Father made all things through the Son, sent the Son for our salvation, and gives us the Holy Spirit.
  • The Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was born of the virgin Mary, fully God and fully human, and is the perfect revelation of the Father and the perfect representative of humanity.  He suffered and died on the cross for all human sin, was raised bodily on the third day, and ascended to heaven.  Standing in for all humanity before the Father, Jesus Christ provides the perfect human response to God.  Since he died for all, all died in him, and all will be made alive in him.
  • The Holy Spirit brings sinners to repentance and faith, assures believers of their forgiveness and acceptance as God’s dearly loved children, and works in them to conform them to the image of Jesus Christ.
  • The Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God that testifies to Jesus Christ.  The Bible is fully authoritative for all matters of faith and salvation.
  • Salvation comes only by God’s grace and not by works, and it is experienced through faith in Jesus Christ.  Christians respond to the joy of salvation when they gather in regular fellowship and live godly lives in Jesus Christ.
  • We look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come.

The Triune God 

God, by the testimony of Scripture, is one divine Being in three eternal, co-essential, yet distinct Persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The One God may be known only in the Three and the Three may be known only as the one true God, good, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and immutable in his covenant love for humanity.  He is Creator of heaven and earth, Sustainer of the universe, and Author of human salvation.  Though transcendent, God freely and in divine love, grace and goodness involves himself with humanity directly and personally in Jesus Christ, that humanity, by the Spirit, might share in his eternal life as his children.

(Mark 12:29; Matthew 28:19; John 14:9; 1 John 4:8; Romans 5:8; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:2; Galatians 3:26)

God the Father  

God the Father is the first Person of the triune God, of whom the Son is eternally begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds through the Son.  The Father, who made all things seen and unseen through the Son, sends the Son for our salvation and gives the Holy Spirit for our regeneration and adoption as children of God.

(John 1:18; Romans 15:6; Colossians 1:15-16; John 3:16; 14:26; 15:26; Romans 8:14-17; Acts 17:28)

The Son of God

The Son of God is the second Person of the triune God, eternally begotten of the Father.  He is the Word and the express image of the Father.  The Father created all things through the Son, and the Son sustains all things by his word.  He was sent by the Father to be God revealed in the flesh for our salvation, Jesus Christ.  Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, fully God and fully human, two natures in one Person.  He is the Son of God and Lord of all, worthy of worship, honor and reverence.  As the prophesied Savior of humanity, he suffered and died for all human sin, was raised bodily from the dead, and ascended to heaven.  Taking on our broken and alienated humanity, he has included the entire human race in his right relationship with the Father, so that in his regeneration of our humanity we share in his sonship, being adopted as God’s own children in the power of the Spirit.  As our representative and substitute, he stands in for all humanity before the Father, providing the perfect human response to God on our behalf and reconciling humanity to the Father.  He will come again in glory as King of kings over all nations.

(John 1:1, 10, 14; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:3; John 3:16; Titus 2:13; Matthew 1:20; Acts 10:36; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Titus 3:4-5; Hebrews 2:9; 7:25; Galatians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 1: 9-10; Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 19:16)

The Holy Spirit  

The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the triune God, eternally proceeding from the Father through the Son.  He is the Comforter promised by Jesus Christ, who unites us with the Father and the Son, and transforms us into the image of Christ.  The Spirit works out in us the regeneration Christ accomplished for us, and by continual renewal empowers us to share in the Son’s glorious and eternal communion with the Father as his children.  The Holy Spirit is the Source of inspiration and prophecy throughout the Scriptures, and the Source of unity and communion in the church. He provides spiritual gifts for the work of the gospel, and is the Christian’s constant Guide into all truth.

(Matthew 28:19; John 14:16; 15:26; Acts 2:38; John 14:17, 26; 1 Peter 1:2; Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Romans 8:16; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 16:13)

The Kingdom of God

The kingdom of God in the broadest sense is God’s supreme sovereignty.  God’s reign is now manifest in the church and in the life of each believer who is submissive to his will.  The kingdom of God will be fully manifest over the whole world after the return of Jesus Christ when he delivers all things to the Father.

(Luke 17:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:6; 11:15; 21:3, 22-27; 22:1-5)



We Believe



Welcome to We Believe — a resource that assists adults and older teens in studying the core beliefs of our Christian faith.  We Believe is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and expressive of GCI’s statement of beliefs and incarnational Trinitarian theology.  We Believe draws on similar documents from other Christian denominations and utilizes key statements from the historic Nicene Creed (referred to in We Believe as “the Creed”).  Here is the text of the Creed, adapted from the translation in The Book of Common Prayer (1979):

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father.   Through him all things were made.  For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.  For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.  He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy, all-embracing and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.



Following the trinitarian structure of the Creed, We Believe begins by addressing the triune God, answering the question, Who is the God Christians worship?  That section is then followed by ones addressing each of the three Persons of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).  Following those sections are ones addressing the kingdom of God, humanity, the Holy Scriptures, the sacraments, the Church, the Christian, the gospel, God’s grace, sin, faith – salvation – repentance, the Christian life, and last things.

In each section of We Believe, you will find bold face questions followed by answers in regular type. Following the answers are relevant references to verses in the Bible given as links that you can click on to take you to the referenced Scriptures online.
It is our prayer that you will be richly blessed by your study in We Believe.






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