“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Understanding the depth of God’s power and love is so important in our walk with God. In the day that we live in, it is hard to know what love is all about. We think that love is a feeling. Love has nothing to do with feeling. Love is a commitment. Dallas Willard says it well. “Christianity states that God is benevolent toward humankind and that he is infinitely powerful. Could we deny either of these two statements? Certainly we would not have the slightest desire to deny that God is benevolent toward humankind, for this is the very essence of the Christian gospel. It is important here to point out that God’s love is not a sentiment, but a well-reasoned devotion to the good or well-being of its objects. We have a terrible time understanding love, because we confuse it with desire. Desire and love are two utterly different kind of things. Not only is desire not love; it is often opposed to love. Right action is the act of love, regardless of the desires of anyone involved. In the second portion of this statement, that God is infinite in power, the situation is slightly different. We cannot confirm this with absolute certainty for the very simple reason that we cannot truly affirm something we cannot fully grasp. In my opinion, infinity is a concept that is best left to the mathematicians who have means for dealing with it. (Personally, I believe that God is infinite in power; I just don’t know the formulas to prove it.)” (Dallas Willard)
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24 I have been writing on what Jesus’ Church looks like. The Church of Jesus Christ is not a building. The Church of Jesus is you and me. All of the believers in the world are part of the Church of Jesus Christ. If we are the church, we should look like the church. “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16) People in the world are looking at us to see what the church is like. If we are the light of the world, should we not be like Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us how we should look. The Beatitudes are the way that we become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The rest of the Sermon is about how we are to look if we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ. It is how we build the foundations of our life. When our foundations are built on the the teaching of Jesus Christ, we have a firm foundation and we look like the Church of Jesus Christ. Do others see the true church in your life?
“There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.” Acts 4:34-35 The task of Jesus’ Church is stated simply; to preach the good news of the kingdom in word and in deed. Jesus delighted in spreading the good news to the hurting, the weak, and the poor. We are commanded to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and reach out in places of brokenness. The church is to care for others. This was also the command that God gave to Israel to take care of the poor. “There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession.” (Deuteronomy 15:4) “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (Isaiah 1:17) Israel did not listen to God and obey. “If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (Isaiah 1:19-20) God sent Israel into captivity because they would not obey Him. When people look at the church, they should see the Kingdom of God and how the church is working to bring that Kingdom to earth. Caring for others is the way that God’s Kingdom looks on this earth. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother or sister in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 If I don’t want what you want, please try not to tell me that my wants are wrong. Or if I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view. Or if my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or weakly. Or if I act, or fail to act in a manner of your design for action, let me be. I do not for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will only come when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you. Paul tells us that we are one body with many parts and all of these parts are so important. Let us realize that we are all different drummers.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 If we are going to have true community, we must have emptiness. Emptiness is simply we need to empty ourselves of anything that is a barrier to communication. Until we can empty ourselves of expectations and stop trying to fit others and our relationship into a preconceived mold we cannot listen, hear, or experience what God has for us. We do not go easily into a new situation with an open mind. As I stated before in my devotions, I had preconceived ideas about what Jesus’ Church should look like. As I did my research and prayed, God has changed my mind. At this point I don’t know what Jesus’ Church should look like. I am still learning. If I am not open to God, I will not grow. I would still be thinking that I knew all about church. We need to be empty of the need to control. We all want to control. We need to give up controlling and allow God to move in our churches and our community. True community is giving it all to God; allowing Him to help us understand what He is doing and what He wants us to do. This is resting in God. This is giving up our way and taking up our cross daily. In our walk with God, humility is the most important thing that we can have.
When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners. “Matthew 9:12-13 What does the word pseudo mean? It means something not real. The prefix pseudo- is used to mark something that superficially appears to be (or behaves like) one thing, but is something else. This is what most communities are; they appear to be community but they are not a true community. This is what most churches are. We put on our masks, go to church and we are all so nice and polite. We just don’t want to offend anyone. Jesus offended the church of His day on a regular basic. We hold back our real feelings so that we can avoid conflict. Conflict is not bad; it is the only way that we grow. We grow during conflict in our lives. If we never share our feelings about what we think about a matter, how do we know if we are right or wrong? If we don’t share what we think, how will we know where we stand in a community. In this community, they are pretending they all believe the same. How will we know if we don’t share, if we don’t talk seriously? True community is conflict resolving. If we don’t talk, how are we going to grow? When I was working, one of my duties was to close out projects. At times this could be difficult. My first task was to sit down and talk about the problems that needed to be taken care of. At times this caused […]
“When they heard this, the people in the synagogue were furious. Jumping up, they mobbed him and forced him to the edge of the hill on which the town was built. They intended to push him over the cliff, but he passed right through the crowd and went on his way.” Luke 4:28-30 This story in Luke 4 was the start of Jesus’ Ministry. What a way to start a ministry. His ministry started in chaos. Chaos is defined as complete disorder and confusion. How much more chaos could there be than to have people wanting to kill you. Jesus was not a stranger to chaos in His ministry. His ministry was a ministry of chaos. The church of Jesus’ time was always disagreeing with Him about His teaching. Why should we think that we are free of chaos in our churches? One of the stages of community is chaos. Sooner or later, individual differences surface or someone foolishly begins to practice honest communication, and the group will almost immediately be thrust into conflict and chaos. This stage is often a time of unconstructive bickering and struggle. And it is no fun at all. Yet it is crucial to move through this stage if we are ever to find the kind of community connectedness we long for. There may be some hurt feelings. There may be times when we say its just not worth the fight. We come back to the point of our ego. Our ego is the thing that gets hurt. It is so important that as we move through this stage of community that we don’t give up. Unless community goes through this stage, we will not move forward. “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) I am willing to move […]
“That is why I use these parables, for they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.” Matthew 13:13 Jesus taught in stories because the people did not listen to Him teaching, because they had their own preconceived ideas. They just could not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and had all wisdom and knowledge. Just as we have them today. We live in our own environment. We live in our own world and at times this world is truly not the real world. In true community, we must face realism. We must be living in the real world. Accepting that we have problems and we are not right about everything. In being real, we embrace both light and darkness. We embrace our own brokenness and the brokenness in the lives of others. We are accepted for who we are, who God sees us to be. In being real, we must remove our masks. Only by removing our mask can God start the healing in our lives. “Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4) No one is more real than children. Children have not learned to put on a mask. What you see in a child is what you get. They are truthful to a fault. If we become as children, Jesus tells us that we become greatest in His kingdom.
“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39 Jesus is giving us some tough words in this scripture. He is telling us that unless we are committed to walk with Him, we are not worthy of being called His disciple. It takes commitment to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. If we want only our way and not God’s way, we will lose our life. If we give our life to Jesus, we will find our life. Giving our life to Jesus is finding where you belong in God’s Kingdom and being committed. It is so important to have this commitment in true community. We have to be committed to the community if the community is going to move forward and work. This is one of the main reasons that we cannot find true community. We start out fine in our community and then what happens? It gets hard. We don’t agree with some of the others. We cannot get our way and our way is right. If you don’t believe that, just ask me. Jesus tells us, “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:14) If we feel that following Jesus is easy, then we will give up when the way gets rough. If we are going to have true community in our churches, we must be committed. If we hang in there, we usually find after a while that the rough places are made plain. We find that communities that learn to transcend its individual differences will […]
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Matthew 23:37 These writings on Jesus’ Church keeps getting deeper and deeper. The more I study and pray about this subject, the more I feel God’s leading. I feel that the church must be a true community. I don’t know totally what that looks like, but I am praying that God will show me. Our churches need God’s Revolution. If this is going to happen, we must make changes. Jesus wants to take us under His wings and love us, but do we really want that? Are we willing to pay the price for the love of Jesus? “Community is defined as a group of two or more people who, regardless of the diversity of their backgrounds, have been able to accept and transcend their differences. They are able to communicate openly and effectively; and to work together toward common goals, while having a sense of unusual safety with one another. We know the rules of community; we know the healing effect of community in terms of individual lives. If we could somehow find a way across the bridge of our knowledge, would not these same rules have a healing effect upon our world? We human beings have often been referred to as social animals. But we are not yet community creatures. We are impelled to relate with each other for our survival. But we do not yet relate with the inclusivity, realism, self-awareness, vulnerability, commitment, openness, freedom, equality, and love of genuine community. It is clearly no longer enough to be simply social animals, babbling together at cocktail parties and brawling with […]