buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “community”

New Movement

Being a certified health nut, I listen to many speakers and read many articles concerning health. However, I have to discern what to keep and what to throw out based on the Truth that I know. For the last several years, I have been living a more holistic lifestyle – more is not always better. I read the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker that really opened my eyes to my consumer mentality. I went into cleaned up mode and purged my unused stuff, cleaning out the closets, also changing how I shop for items that I use. I think differently now about “stuff.” My eyes were also opened about sustainability.

When I read about sustainability, it really hit me as a follower of Jesus. I had never really thought about how we were the stewards of the earth in this day and time. It changed how I thought in regards to chemical use on my plants at home and on my plate; how I drink water – no water bottles if possible; using shopping bags instead of plastic bags, which seem to float through the air around every shopping center. Not to mention, the garbage dump in the ocean that is larger than Texas; clean water and food deserts that no governmental agency seems to fix. Poverty is everywhere, but if we bought responsibly maybe things could change for those communities.

Climate change is a hot topic right now. Is the earth getting hotter because of man or is it a part of God’s plan? However, we’re doing things now that are unsustainable – our natural resources are finite and eventually they will run out unless we switch to a new mindset. The governments of this world aren’t going to solve the problems. There are many “grass-root” efforts that are taking on the challenge to better this world. As followers of Jesus, we need to be involved. I am not a tree hugger, but we need our Amazonian rain forests – they are the lungs of this planet. We need to be instrumental in doing good – even for our planet.

There’s a lot of “new age” thought that I have to sort through to get to the truth, but one thing that stood out to me this week is this thought of a “trance” we are living in that we think we don’t have enough; it’s a scarcity mentality. Lynne Twist (Pachamama Alliance) mentioned in an interview that we used to be citizens, now we are consumers. We are supposed to keep money moving; however, we have been seduced into this trance of wanting more. We don’t know when we have had enough and it’s killing us and this earth. We need to wake up to the big lie that is keeping us from being responsible citizens of this world.

This trance that Lynne Twist mentioned is really a tool of the enemy. This really got me to thinking. Christians should be at the front of every movement to bring about change. Whether it is resources that need to be sustainable protected; using money to give a helping hand up (not a hand out); consuming products that are produced in a living wage environment as well as resourced ecologically and giving back to a community from where it came (this will end poverty in those places).

Whatever the cause, we should be moving the cause forward; holding a different conversation than the one being held today. We are not to find fault that leads to argument. We need to shift the conversation to the things that are working and make a model to replicate it elsewhere. We need this conversation today because it’s not going to get any better without us.

One day Jesus is going to return. According to Scripture, there will be a thousand-year reign on this earth – this earth, the way it is now or the way it will be if we don’t stop the destruction. We will not get a new heaven and a new earth until after the thousand years. I don’t know if we will have the ability to receive water from a rock or if we will have food that will once again be nutritious because the soil has been replenished by our responsible habits of organically grown produce and rotating crops.

We can see in the Book of Acts how the people helped each other – anyone who had need was helped by the ones who were able to meet the needs. In health circles, communities are seen as a good thing. Community is one of the ingredients for a healthy body. God created us for community. We are not meant to do these things alone. We need each other and we need a healthy earth to live on at least for another thousand years or so. We need to think differently about these things. We need to pay attention to what we use and throw away. We need to wake up from the enemy’s trance. These things should concern us and motivate us to be different. Are you out of the trance yet? Let’s wake up to the destruction and steward our resources well. It’s on us to make a better place for those coming behind us. Time to join the movement!

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
Genesis 1:26-28 (MSG)

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The Gathering

Last week, I wrote about having unity in the body for prayer. This week, I was reminded that we are to be in unity as a community. I have heard it said that as Christians we don’t have to gather together to worship. We can do it as individuals: anytime, anyplace. True. But there is something about being together that makes a difference. We are told in Scripture that angels are gathered together before the throne in worship. Revelation 5:11 says there are many angels – thousands upon thousands and ten thousand times ten thousand. They are gathered around the throne singing “worthy of the Lamb.” It reminds me of a Beth Moore conference at the end of the gathering when Travis Cottrell sings a song based on that verse. It’s powerful. There are several songs he sings that is that powerful. It’s worth the price of admission!

Have you ever been to one of Beth’s conferences or another big gathering of believers (besides church gatherings on Sundays)? I have been to several Beth Moore conferences and simulcast. I have been to a Billy Graham conference back in the day. When we stand up and sing certain songs together, I will get cold chills running down my arms. It’s powerful to hear all the voices together singing in unity. I love going to those conferences. I get encouraged by the Word spoken and sometimes I get a word directly spoken about a prayer request. It’s great when that happens.

However, gathering together isn’t really about the Word being spoken – although it’s good to gather to hear God’s Word; but the real power is gathering together to worship our Lord. There’s nothing more glorious because it replicates what will take place when we all gather in heaven. We will join with the angels in their praise of our Lord and King. This down here is just a dress rehearsal. We’re trying to get it right down here. But up there, everything will be right! There will be no one singing off-key or off the beat. It will be perfect!

So I get that we can do it on our own and we should. But as the writer of Hebrews says we shouldn’t neglect gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). The writer says especially in this day and time at the nearness of Jesus’ return. It’s important to encourage one another. It’s important to live as a community, helping each other through these tough times – especially as persecution breaks against us. And it will eventually. Actually, it has already started in some regards.

When I was growing up, it was the norm to gather together on Sundays. Not so much now. It is very rare for all the neighbors in the neighborhood meeting at the intersections in a rush to get to a gathering. Matter of fact, when I walk around the neighborhood on Sunday mornings, it’s downright peaceful. There is no traffic at all. No one is out walking either.

Contrast that with a Saturday afternoon college football game where the home team is playing. There is a rush to get to the game. Thousands upon thousands gather to watch men clash on the turf. There are lots of cheers going on and lots of singing of the fight song. Encouragement to the team members are shouted from the stands. The fans have no place on the field. There is nothing significant about the event. Sure some team will be victorious at the end of the game. Fans will leave and go about their own business. Their lives were not changed by the outcome of the event. Sure, someone will be a little down because their team lost. But they still go about their business.

The gathering of the church is much different. It should be as enthusiastic as the football game. However, we’re not fans. We are on the field playing! We all have a part to play, and it’s not being on the sidelines cheering. We should be encouraging our teammates just as zealously as those who gather for the football game. The gathering changes us. It inspires us. The glory of the Lord is revealed through us, and helps us shine brighter in our neighborhoods. We are to go out and be the light we are meant to be when this dark world knocks on our door. Gathering together is good for our benefit and for others.

The gathering though is more than a cheering session. It’s about community. It’s about sharing our lives with one another. The people who gathered together in the first century shared everything. No one was in need. The people were persecuted for their faith and were cast out of society with nothing. The ones who still had resources shared with those who have nothing because of their faith. That’s the picture of the true church.

In these last days, we need to come back to that picture of unity; of community. Scripture tells us we are to be known for our love for one another. That’s what gathering is all about. We can worship on our own, but we can’t love one another well without gathering together. Do not forsake it. Our neighbors are counting on us whether they realize it or not. We have the hope that will change their lives. Let’s be the church we’re called to be, and do good to all as we’re called to do.

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Philippians 1:27; 2:1-2 (NLT)

The Suggestion

The great commission challenges us to go and make disciples. Last year, my church started a school to teach us how to be the solution to meeting the needs of the community and put the great commission into practice. We were learning how to disciple others; how to teach the Word. The school was teaching us to get outside our four walls and have relationships with others. I was all about learning these principles, but I was having a hard time putting it into practice. Forming relationships is tough business in this crazy world we live in today. It’s much easier to have community on-line. But I don’t think this is what we’re really supposed to do. It’s a good start, but nothing takes the place of one on one relationships.

If I look at the Bible for examples, Jesus and His followers did life together. They ate meals together and walked around together. They were all up in each others business. There was no “private” space. Much of the world around us (except in western culture) live in this way as well. In other cultures, neighbors are expected to come and go. There really isn’t much “personal” space. Single people don’t have privacy; they don’t live alone. Families live with other families. They all do life together. This is just not the case in western culture. We like our privacy. We like the fact that we have two thousand square feet of living space – not just for one family, but maybe for just one person alone! If we had to share our stuff we someone else, we might actually freak out.

I was listening to a forum on discipleship which brought out the fact that in order to disciple others we have to be in community; we have to have relationships. One of the speakers talked about a young man coming to live with him and his family. The young man was a new believer. He lived with the speaker for a year. Then the young man got engaged then married. When they married, they moved in with the speaker and his family to learn how to live as a couple – how to fight, how to ask for forgiveness, how to live as a married couple. This just sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the biblical way? I am reminded that we are not to do life alone. We are not meant to isolate ourselves. We are meant to have community that exists in the everyday life. Daily life is where we need the influence of one who has walked the road we’re on. Daily life is where the real life happens.

Jesus set the tone for us. He is our mentor on how to mentor others. It’s more than a one-on-one time with someone else; it’s many mentors speaking the truth into a person’s life in the community. The forum emphasized relationship building as the way to disciple others – the same emphasis that the school attempted to convey and multiplying the efforts – disciples disciple others. And the movement continues. It’s all good in theory! Relationship building is HARD. It takes time and effort. It will cost me something. Am I willing to pay the price? Are you? Is it time for the western church body to change its way of “doing church?”

Do we sit in church every week and absorb what the preacher is saying, but never apply what is heard? Do put he Bible down on the table when we get home and only pick it up to take the next Sunday? Is this really what Jesus had in mind when He said to go and disciple others in what is now known as the great suggestion? I feel like we have it all wrong. We are no longer seeing growing spiritually mature believers. We are in dangerous times spiritually speaking. One day we’re going to be in front of Jesus, and He will send those away who He doesn’t know. Someone will say, “I was in church every Sunday morning.” He will end up saying “I never knew you.” It’s sad to contemplate that thousands upon thousands will be turned away from an everlasting life with Jesus. They knew about Jesus, but they never surrendered to His Lordship. It’s all about the relationship! He can fix the mess!

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 2 Timothy 4:2-3

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