God Has Always Had a People

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By Paul S. Williams

On the final morning of the 2006 NACC, the following reading accompanied the special music before Rick Atchley’s closing message. At the suggestion of others, I am sharing the words I wrote for that occasion in this week’s column.

God has always had a people. Those who call his hearth their home. The Christian journey makes no sense apart from the people of God. There is no room for freelance believers. God has always worked through his people his church.

The church has survived the extremes from centuries of persecution to crusades of arrogance. Close minded judgment to sacrificial love. Bitter condemnation to overwhelming grace. But through it all, from age to age, God has always had a people.

Born of God. Nurtured by those who have gone before. Flawed and broken, yet hopeful, merciful people. Fair skinned, olive complexioned, black and bronzed. In the morning of life or the evening of days. God has always had a people.

Many thinkers have mistakenly written off the people of God as an outdated community, a dying breed, an irrelevant institution in a time too sophisticated for the transcendent. But God has always had a people.

In a day where there is only “what is true for you,” and little hope of truth for all. In an age where all roads lead to self centered consumption that leaves one as hungry as when the day began. In a time where there are millions of ideas, but none that nourish, God still has his people.

A people who say there is truth, and his name is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the “I AM.” There is a church his church. A people who love their maker and pledge their lives to him. God has always had a people.

The battle rages on. The church is at war. But the gates of Hell shall not prevail. We do know how the story ends. The church is triumphant.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. . . . On each side of the river stood the tree of life, . . . yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22: 1, 2).

It is Christ’s church, triumphant. It is alive and it is well.

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