Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Community I Desire

Short version: We show up. God leads it.

Medium version:
  • We pick a time and place to meet
  • Somebody brings food.
  • Somebody starts a time of prayer. God's presence is tangible as we seek to connect with him through prayer.
  • A few people share something God is saying to them (share how God is encouraging them, comforting them, teaching them, walking with them, loving them). God's presence is tangible as we listen and observe what He is saying and doing in each others lives.
  • Others reply with Scripture or a word of encouragement or prayer or even a song.
  • Some occasions will require discernment
  • Some Scripture is read (as a group and/or as people share). God's speaks to us during this time.
  • Somebody may lead/share songs of worship
  • In all the above the direction we go won't be a direction any of us planned, but a direction God is leading

Long version:

I'm looking for believers to practice being part of Christ's living body, and looking to how that was was modeled to us by believers in the New Testament.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. "

I'm desiring people to practice:

  • Loving one another (John 13:34-35, Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:11, 1 John 4:12, 2 John 1:5)
  • Praying for one another (Ephesians 6:18)
  • encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25)
  • Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
  • Honoring one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)
  • Living in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
  • Accepting one another (Romans 15:7)
  • Instructing one another (Romans 15:14)
  • Teaching and admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16)
  • Serving one another (Galatians 5:13) - this one may usually happen outside our regularly scheduled gathering, at other people's homes
  • Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing and making music in our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances you may have against one another (Colossians 3:13)

I think if we allow Christ to lead us, every believer can practice all of the things above. Note that teaching can be done verbally as well as by modeling a behavior... even if you don't like giving speeches. Like how a parent teaches a child to draw, swim, ride a bike...

Each of us will be more gifted in certain areas. I'd love to see that coming through.

I'm not saying other study formats are wrong. Of course there is nothing wrong with doing a video series, a book study, a topical Bible study guide, pre-planned devotionals, listening to sermons or singing along with a worship band. Yet as I have been studying the early New Testament church it seems there was less reliance on pre-planned/structured meeting and more on God moving within their midst freely (more like I outlined above). I believe Jesus' Spirit led the early believers when they gathered, and we can experience that more clearly too.

I'm not expecting this to happen at a large Sunday morning gathering, and I haven't sensed God placing this desire on the hearts of any brothers and sisters near to me. Maybe it is something I need to start practicing at home first...


Al said...

You aren't alone in your desires. There are many of us who are noticing the definite holes in that which we have come to know as 'church'. In many ways it pales in comparison to what it could be. We are satisfied with something so far short of what it could truly be.

For myself, I really see the typical corporate church setting as nothing much more than a 'bless ME' club, with little or no contemplation of the world at large. We might sing that "It's all about you, Jesus", but really it's our good feelings that matter most.

I have been thinking quite a bit about how discussion, questions, and differing opinions are very important, but missing within the typical 'lecture style' sermon. It usually is just one guy's ideas, and then we go home.

Along with the rather novel (but decided biblical) ideas you mention, I think we also need to consider that community is much more than just hanging with those who believe like we do for an hour or two, and then going home. I think community needs to be a way of life, and include much more than just our similarly-thinking buddies. Jesus talked a lot more about people like the poor, the sick, the outcasts than he did about separating ourselves from them in church. And he told us we shouldn't hide our lights under a basket (or inside a church building).

As you have observed many times in your 'playdough' scriptures, we have become quite accustomed to twisting and interpreting scripture in ways quite foreign to its intent. This is as obvious in the whole concept of church as elsewhere.

Thanks for the insight.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Al for your input. I've been feeling as well that I have been lacking an outward focus. My church experience has been mostly done within the safety of church functions and groups. We're feeling God leading our family to have more a relational focus, having people into our home and lives... and not just our comfortable church friends.

Lysa said...

You definitely aren't alone in this desire. About three+ years ago, the Lord placed the same desire into my heart (and my husband's) which led us to opening our home to "like-Spirited" people with the same desire. For nearly three years we have had a sweet fellowship group of about 20 people meeting in our home on Sunday mornings. What a blessed time it is and what an awesome God we serve!
I will be praying that as the Lord has placed this desire within your heart, that He will lead you to people with whom He may fulfill it with!
Many blessings & prayers!

Jonathan said...

Thanks Lysa for the prayers. I'd like to add that I pray that all may be done while maintaining a degree of unity with my brothers and sisters whom I love but are on a slightly different path.
... well we are all on slightly different paths, none of us are the same... but it may be easy to look at me and say I'm too far off their path... I pray that we can see Christ in each and recognize what unifies us.

Thanks! God bless!

Lysa said...

Yes, Jon, when I say "like-Spirited" I mean those who are a similar path. I don't mean to forsake all others-that would be the opposite of unity.
The Lord put us together with people who are on a similar path for our "intimate" fellowship and has called us to go out into the rest of the Body, promoying unity in LOVE!
I hope you didn't misunderstand my previous comments!

Jonathan said...

Hi, sorry, no that unity thing wasn't directed at you at all. I was just adding on to the prayer you started for me. Thanks. :)