The Difference is Jesus: Gonzalez Stressed God’s Call to Relationship

 In All Church of God, NAC: North American Convention


By Sam Collins

The Sunday evening service of the North American Convention of the Church of God was all about Jesus. The focus of worship was “Refreshing Our Relationship with Christ” and included Communion, the ordinance in which believers partake of the elements of bread and juice that represent the body and blood of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In addition to those present in Reardon Auditorium, thousands from around the world joined in worship and praise via a live webcast. The spirit of the service can be summed up in one of the songs shared during the gathering: “You did it for me, you did for love. Jesus you are enough.”

The centrality of Christ and our relationship with him also powerfully echoed through the preaching of Hector Gonzalez, pastor of Nueva Vida Church of God—located in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix—a thriving, innovative congregation whose name means “New Life.” Gonzalez asked his listeners, “How do we refresh and invigorate our relationship with Jesus?” The answer, he declared, is to heed the words of the letter of James: “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (4:8 NIV).

“If we feel we are not as close to God as we once were,” Gonzalez continued, “it is not because God has moved—it’s because we have. We drift away from his word and will, and we begin to forget his mission. God does not change; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must move back to him.”

As we fully surrender to Christ, Gonzalez emphasized, “God strengthens us with his Spirit so that we live and witness boldly for him. When that happens, souls are saved and disciples are made. It is not God’s desire that we be a weak church or struggling individuals. God wants us, through Christ, to have a vigorous, enthusiastic, dynamic, and powerful relationship with him. We cannot do this on our own. We must reflect the message of a bumper sticker I once had—‘The Difference in Me Is Jesus.’”

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