eNewsletter Feature Story – February 24, 2022

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor.

Dear friends,

Are you in the world for God or in God for the world? The differing, distinctive implications between these two orientations is quite significant and one of the subtle questions in John 15:1-17. 

Let me explain why: To be in the world for God assumes God is passionate about our passions — be they political, social, or spiritual. Over time, our specific individual ideas and overall agenda shape how we engage with the world, for good or ill. Over time, this stance can devolve into borderline idolatry because our assumptions persuade us that God is on our side.   

On the other hand, to be in God for the world means fellowship with God for the sake of love. We didn’t choose God. God chose us to be the presence or conduit of God’s love in the world. So, we go where God is going, not where we want God to go. I hope you see the difference. 

Lent 2022 at First Pres begins in six days now, March 2, with a special Ash Wednesday observance in the Sanctuary. Go here for additional Lenten resources for you and your family. 

Over the 40 days of Lent, I invite you to be in God for the world. In keeping with the mission of our church, we want everyone to know Jesus, grow in him, and serve and make disciples.  

Unfortunately, for some of us, following Jesus is limited to a certain day of the week, where the only choice one has to make is whether to embrace the label Christian.  

This year’s 2022 Lenten series demands more than labels. Our teaching series, “Walking the Path: Choices for every disciple of Jesus,” focuses on the complexity of following Jesus in the world. Through the lens of selected lectionary readings, the teaching series will confirm how following Jesus involves taking the road less traveled 

Choosing to follow Jesus is not a one-and-done deal. Instead, like Christian in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim Progress,” we eschew temptations and paths that distract us from reaching the Celestial City.  

Being in God for the sake of the world is costly. We are residents today of a culture of speed. We live in a scrolling, skimming culture that offers fast-track rapid-scan discipleship. Instead of going deep, we dabble in the latest fads on prayer, becoming devotional tinkerers who know many things about God but don’t know God deeply, personally, at the center of their life.  

Jesus has a different plan for us. He wants to transform more than what people see at the surface of our lives. He wants to go beyond labels and what’s shown on the surface. He wants to abide in us and us in him.  

So my fellow Pilgrims on the Way of Jesus, go back and slowly read John 15:1-17,  choose to abide in God, and watch how Jesus’s words deconstructs the world’s metrics on what is important.  


Lord, grant me the desire to seek you more and more, and when that desire eludes, give me the discipline to do so. Amen. 

Your fellow Pilgrim, 

Pastor Ray Hylton 

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