Community Building

Why in the modern church have we so used the term  “personal relationship”, come into a personal relationship with Jesus as a way of defining my experience of God?

Unknown-4I have discovered through reading the scriptures that my personal relationship is not enough, I have discovered that through my faith experience that it is inadequate.   the scriptures tell us that the church grows “as every joint supplies”, that if I say I love God and not my brother something is not right.
I have realised that we must apply this relationship to people around me and I must be vigorous and develop a strategic personal relationship with Christ’s people.    So we have a personal relationship that express itself in the “love others”, if we don’t something is missing.

I have discovered that I cannot say simple “I love you” without grasping they are the three hardest words that you have, it is a statement that challenges and deals with my “integrity” “intimacy” and my “identity” – I…Love…You!   It asks me to tell what i mean by LOVE

Community describes such large diverse formats in todays postmodern world, people in a home, monastic, celebrations where ever, what ever shape it comes in it does have highly defined principles.

These communities and practices so vary across our world from the House Churches hidden in countries where people are under threat of death to your G12 along with the mega church and many other expressions of various forms and practices.   Even through out history we have accounts of people who would gather out of their daily routine to read, pray along with enquire of one another’s health and days.   The Methodist in early days would gather and run a checklist on the condition of each others soul’s, the early pioneers would say if you did not involve in such a practice your conversion was likely not genuine.    This was not a small group administration as  we have today, although it was recognised that the best number of participants was 10 or 12 people,  it flowed form the conviction that you could not and did not have a solitary faith – it was community, corporate all the way

“It became evident (to Wesley) that it was only through such close fellowship that people continued in their faith. Those who did not join the ‘Society’ (of Wesleyans) sooner or later fell back into their former careless life… The members of the classes came to meet together, and so a real encounter and true exchange between the members was assured.       People shared experiences with each other, bore the burdens and care of a brother, spoke openly with each other and so nipped in the bud rumours and evil gossip.       People prayed and sang with each other.” 

Martin Schmidt,

For many decades this setting produced a fast growing church just as the underground church in China has experienced, so did the ‘House Church’ movement of Uk 40 years ago, clearly there was key to it.     It is the appreciation of the power of Christ-followers together in community.

Howard Snyder writes that “renewal movements – notably Methodism and  Pietism – offset the individual and otherworldliness thought structures of accountable community…they nurtured community that neutralised spiritual narcism to a significant degree. When these were abandoned they lost their key defines agains on overly subjective individualism”    Perhaps its realising the ‘House Church’ movement of the UK, the renewal movement of South America along with the ‘Underground House Church’ movements of China say much on regaining a pattern that retains and develops ours UNION with God and one with another rather than the systems that uphold the achieving personal gains/goals/destinies?

One of the saddest influences upon us today was the shift in the church history from community (koinonia) towards hierarchy (ierarchia) from the sense of being the charismatic “one-another” body of Christ to being a structured institution.     Its a challenge when we are to be the affirmation of the image of God in humankind and the manifestation of God’s glory, when God is never out of community, God is community, more than one, a covenant movement and the Church is to be its mirror in the earth…

One of my loved Africa sayings that come back to me time and time again, it is one that Archbishop (as he was when he used the statement) Desmond Tutu gave in a speech and spoke of the idea of community from an African perspective:

“We say in our African idiom, ‘A person is a person through other persons.’ The solitary human being is a contradiction in terms.        I need you in order to be me as you need me in order to be you.        We are caught up in a delicate network of inter-connectedness.         I have gifts that you don’t, and you have gifts that I don’t—voila! We are made different so that we may know our need of one another. The completely self-sufficient human being is subhuman.”images

If Tutu accurately reflects the African perspective on human relationships, then we need in the church, the ekklesia – this given the surname of God need to relearn to reflect the Covenant, the Divine Dance of Gods Kingdom Gods order.         And it’s this: that community—Tutu called it inter-connectedness—is essential in order for me to know myself … and to know you.

In the books written on the study of people you will find this quote that “True communities are built on the realisation that the autonomous individual is not a whole person. A person is whole only as he or she is a person-in-community.”

Paul and Frances Hiebert

Consider some of the scripture that so lock us into a UNION of many, the body of Christ.  It seems that God relates to us in term of our connectedness not our individuality.    Charles Simpson a wonderful friend once ministered that the church was “flexible…digital…”, and expanded  on the digital aspect.
That each digit has all it requires in itself, nothing required adding but it does not fulfil its purpose or become useful until it is plugged into the mother board, only then as connectivity flows from digit that surround it does it come to life, working and become useful.

Could this be the true emphasis of 1 John 3:11  “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. … This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

This is not your light contact but a serious kind of experience, its not sentimental or emotional but a deliberate, intentional love, a life-giving relationship we enter into, for longevity, not friend today and gone tomorrow type.    I note that people change friendships and their belonging, ho they along to and are friends with, they change as often as they change their clothes, what is fashionable in the moment or who is fashionable to be running with or who can give me what I am after?

As i said it is intentional, we connect not because you have some thing i need or want but because being “born of the Spirit” we have been “interconnected”, knowing i cannot display that in its world wide sense but i must locally be part of a people who receive my faithfulness, my commitment, my poured outness.   In Union with Christ means I must replicate the way of life with one another.  As i mentioned in my last blog it was meant to be the identifiable motif that distinguishes the Relational Movement we call Christ like or Christianity

I am because we are…A person is a person through other persons…I am who I am because of who you are

What is it..?

Two things happened to me this week that pose questions to our Christian walk. One I sat with my evangelist friend Johnny Kinch, our discussions were far and wide however one of our conversations was around the importance of images-3revelation to our Christ-like pursuit.

Today we have so many challenges of where we stand, what we believe and how we practice it really is an overall challenge to the Christ likeness that we are and that we are to pursue.

I hear many saying, I must admit I’ve said it as well, that we are in the midst of a reformation of our faith which will transform much about understanding and therefore practice. We’re challenged on sexuality, justice, grace and law, on everything at every hand. My belief is that what God is bringing us into a Reformation on is simply adjusting our view of God. This adjustment of our view of God will bring a new paradigm which will cause a new practice or shall I venture to suggest wine skin.

I must put this as a caveat, has this not always been the way wineskin adjustment, our wineskins will always have to adjust. The challenge is whether the changes are pragmatic in adjustment or whether there is an eternal input into that adjustment. Are w adjusting to ‘get more’, what ever the more we are after or are we adjusting to restore the image and likeness of God to all creation. The adjustment coming from a discovery and deepening understanding of the nature of Good, Father, Son and Spirt ?

Therefore in every fresh breath, understanding, insight or revelation it really is about seeing and continuing the Christ call who came to explain the father (John 1:18).

Through our discussion it came more sharp,my to me that we must look to see in every life that is ‘coming to Christ’ will see and be transformed via a revelation, a vision of Christ. This seeing, this revelation is what cultivates our pursuit to live Christ likeness. If this revelation, whether it be an Emmaus Road, Damascus Road, or a still small voice whatever it may be it’s the last impact that enabled me to put to one side one way of life , the way I once was, Paul said it to many of the new Testament churches did he not, “…once you were one of these…”, whatever these are. This seeing, this revelation, this vision, this transformation, this conversion that so impacts me it enables and creates an onward desire to be like Christ. That my was seeking my whole emphasis is to live a life according to a revelation of Christ.

Our conversation concluded in that we wanted to bring everyone immediately into a revelation of Christ which would fully impact our world. It also would determine a lifestyle.

Today more and more people seem to live in whatever way they wish to, and justify it on terms of grace. Yet Grace saves me the Bible says. So how I would suggest to you that when Grace, a revelation of Christ takes hold of you, you have nothing else in your life but a longing to live according to that arresting.

The very same day I was in discussion with Johnny a book was delivered, a gift from a dear long friend Dr Timothy Larsen. The book is called ‘Theology questions everyone asks” subtitled Christian faith in plain language. My first thing was to enquire to see what Tim had written in 12 chapters, he writes the first and asks ‘What is a Christian’. which brought me back to my earlier conversation of the impact of revelation in my life, in Johnny’s life, in many I know that are pursuing Christ. You see ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’, only happens in the light of this revelation. One of my challenges is not to make the revelation so grand and so vast that no one can enter, or only the few neither to dumb it down so suggesting a simple discharging of information. Seeing something I’ve never seen before in information, Is a revelation in any measure when revelation enters our own mind and soul it means I cannot get up from the chair, leave the room or walk away from that moment unchanged. So never mind how gentle how small the narrative or how big, did you leave that moment knowing that you couldn’t live the way you had. Something had to start and something had to stop.

The Bible says that without a vision the people are unrestrained, in other words vision, revelation brings into my life what I must do and why I shall not do. Today people read these statements as inflicting laws upon them, but really its due to the encounter, revelation, seeing I now have a life style that looks as Paul outlines Christ occupied, that cleans up my speech (no unwholesome word comes from my mouth), brings my life into order (live Christ like by the power of a Resurrected life), enables a generous lifestyle (become a giver like the nature of God birthed in us), just to name a few.

I’ve not read Timothy’s chapter but I will read with interest, but I’m convinced that what we need today is constant revelation impact, not just experiences. Without revelation our faith will become like a drug addict constantly looking for the next experience and having to experience regularly to keep the high. Or let me be the first to see that a deep experience in my personal walk of faith, and I pray that every one of us will encounter them, is much more about revelation making the transformation. So what is a Christian, someone who is caught with a vision of Christ and is propelled forward in Christ likeness, Christians are arrested by revelation that has brought a way of life. we have discovered our Hero – the Christ and we are total absorbed by this Christ in ever way.

Some people suggest that Paul laid down laws ‘you shall not”, but I would suggest Paul simply said in the light of your revelation of the Christ some of you lived a way “as some of these” but now there is an evident outflow form ever way of my life, as an individual and asa corporate family. It was not you should, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t ,you shouldn’t. it was more about having caught the revelation this is the life that you can now expect to live. Revelation life has an outflow of shape, the way you talk, you deal with people, the way you include people, the way you conduct your affairs, the way my home runs, the way my relationships are conducted, the way I speak. All these have a shape in the light of revelation of Christ.

So it’s not about law it’s about Christ being birthed inside me and I will live in this way. It’s much better to wake people up to their revelation, which will make them led by the spirit and their lives will have a form that is Godly, Christ likeness, the image and likeness of God.

I now look forward to reading Timothy’s article on what is a Christian.

Freedom and Roots

images-4For Freedom we are set free…
Two scriptures have such wonderful liberating statements, they pulsate through us all who love God.   The two yet are far-reaching in impacting the way my mind thinks and how I see this liberating relationship with the Radical Jesus.   Radical being that word that is originated from ‘foundational’, that is ‘having roots’ or ‘of roots’, Jesus was radical as he dealt with humanities on the foundational issue of life.

The first of the two scriptures:

Galatians 5:1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Freedom, I wonder what pictures of the mind, what experiences, what way of life it cultivates for us?   Freedom to stand firm, not to be enslaved to a life that is so different to the image and likeness of God that is put within us all.

The second is found in Romans 8: 20-22:
20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21  that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now

Creation waiting for its freedom, this freedom that is directly related to humanities freedom, regaining/restoring the image and likeness of God once again.  Grasp this,  creation is waiting for the freedom in us to manifest as it wants a piece of it…     As we take hold of the image and likeness of God and live life we will live free and creation will come into its own by entering into the “…freedom of the glory of the children of God…”

Freedom a gift of God, freedom a condition of living, not something you fall into our society can off via your circumstances but according to the life we live the life of Christ which is freedom.

Why?

To bring an order of the creator to bear on all mankind and creation, the kingdom of God, freedom is living according to Gods will.   It certainly is not getting all i want but it is bringing a life order of heaven to bear on creation which begins with my freedom.

In this liberty we are to export and pilgrim our citizenship to transfer society at large.   Affecting economy, the definition and shape of family life, politics, social life style, transformation of the poor… the list goes on and on…The Freedom we live is necessary to affect you and me, transform and conform us to the image of Christ that we might transfer the world around us, being the family of God, being the radical transformed, being Restorers of people and our world.   Taking hold of the exploits God ordained for each of us before time, transforming my life and street.   Taking our position in life not waiting to be rescue or removed…

John Stott wrote in his book Issues facing Christians Today “The church must therefore exhibit its multi-racial, multi-national and multi-cultural nature. . . . Therefore every homogeneous unit church must take active steps to broaden its fellowship in order to demonstrate visibly the unity and the variety of Christ’s Church”.

Demonstrating, being an example of the full life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, explaining God (John 1:18) to the world around us and participating.   We have been brought near to God to participate in the Divine purpose, Divine movement, we have been invited into participate with God in bringing freedom, life and the image of God and to restore  all of creation

So the question remains then how far should my involvement and participation go, should it be one life at a time, one street and community at a time, absolutely resounding Yes.   Should it be in teaching, medical, economics, even again Yes but what about politics?   The answer is freedom set free to bring freedom in all, creation groaning and people reaching…

Should a Christian be Involved in Politics?   Should God’s Freedom Army, God’s revolutionist, God’s Restorers be involved?   Next time we will open up this question more fully and practically.

Freedom you are set free to provoke creation to participate with those led by the Spirit, the sons of God….

Ask yourself this…

UnknownIt’s quite amazing as you read through the scriptures how the bible is tied together and flows together considering so many people put pen to paper over so many years. When we see the authority of the Scripture as being something to hold to it’s still amazing of where we find certain passages situated.

It’s interesting as you read 1 Corinthians 13, as it turns our mind towards love where it is rested. I am told a diamond truly only comes into its own when it’s in its correct setting.      Perhaps 1 Corinthians 13 sits in its correct setting?      The passage is sandwiched between two chapters one having to do with spiritual gifts and the other to do with the speaking in tongues.     I know that most of us have either read or heard it read at weddings, but I’m suggesting that we regain its significance and took this very same passage and applied it to our influence, leadership, common conduct for the common good.  I would even suggest I am struggling to see its relevance at weddings really, it was around a table, at gathering of the church family this was to be effectively encountered This LOVE…

I really do think that this passage was not return for wedding ceremonies, although can be used and is good but it really was more written for the church family life and for those that were taking responsibility and leadership and mature in the body of Christ. So let’s consider…

“Love is patient”
Do I give others the same room that I want them to give me? When mistakes are made, advances are taken?

“Love this kind”
Do the people I hang out with actually like being around me? Is appointed thought ask yourself how much do people asked to be with me outside of my work, outside of responsibility?

“It does not envy”
when that great idea is suggested, when someone gets promoted what my inner attitude like? Do I find a jealous streak arising when a great ideas shared, constantly perceiving others threatening me. Some people find themselves unable to live in their current condition because those who suggests their mature, project the superiority perceive you as a threat.

“It does not boast”
Am I the kind of person that always wants to tell people of my previous achievements, that I almost had gone what I’ve done to every comment. If we are so obsessed with what I’ve done in the past then to be honest would really not advancing towards anything at all.

“It is not proud”
I got it, “you need to come to me to see how it’s done” I was once told. I’m the one that knows how to do it, I am the one in the church/organisations that has the answer, you need to worship like me, think like me, preach like me?

“It is not rude”
As soon as I hear an idea I don’t like to I cut them off mid-sentence. Am I the one that blanks people, do people get a calm cold response from me? Is my insecurity so great I’m sharp with people?

“It’s not self-seeking”
What I give my time to, how I invest myself always and really about?

“Is not easily angered”
People afraid to bring me information that is true about me because they know I will lose my cool. Is my life cultivated from being constantly angry?

“It keeps no record of wrongs”
“that’s the… time you’ve done that said that”, “how many times… I remember the last time, and the time before”. Why tell them and remind people of their failures of past constantly, I mind the epitome of forgiveness.

“ love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truths”
Can people be honest and open with any one of us? it’s lonely influencers/leaders who do not have people around them will open up their hearts and share correctly and accurately truth. For this kind of person becomes the dominant that sits on top. Why can’t a bit the truth is celebrated so that people will enjoy truth at all times.

“It always protects”
Am I the kind of person that people will feel my kindness, graciousness, forgiveness, do they know I will always have their best in mind. It always difficult to flow with people will demand loyalty but never extended in any way.

“Always trusts”
Do I come from a trusting position of distrust in. As my years of life and experiences around me produced a distrusting starting point. Can I be one the trusts, and trusts and only when you are constantly showed that I cannot trust I begin to change. Is my world made up of trust or caution?

“Always hopes”
I half empty or half full pot kind of person? Do I assume or how bad it is or how poor the people are. Can I find inside me a way of believing others.

“Always perseveres”
How long will I stay in with people, once it made a mistake am I out of the, my quick to give up on people? And I’m the one that stays in and is a faithful as a friend.

“Love never fails”
Can people feel and sense my love always it quite often displayed in those that stay around. Is the atmosphere that people draw from me that love winds through?

Therefore as an influencer or a leader, as a parent a mother or father, as a friend and brother or sister IVs the qualities of my influence. Ask yourself when I honestly like. I would even suggest that spiritual gifts or speaking in tongues love will always be. To flow in gifts at a time added to root, and its foundation love must be a love that is patient, kind….

Restoration

images-219 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,

21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 3:19–21). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 · Restoration is the work of the Spirit to bring us personally, the church corporate and finally the world universally back to its original condition of purity and forward to the purpose, announced by the prophets, for which it was created.

· Restoration removes all that is not made by the Master’s hand – sin, sickness, religion and anything that denies the lordship of Christ. It re-establishes Christ’s order, government, plan and will. Restoration resets every man and woman in his or her divinely appointed place of usefulness and fulfilment in the family, church and world.

· Restoration is achieved by God’s people responding to the voice of the Spirit, thus carrying his purpose forward towards completion and the return of Christ.

Think about it, ponder it, how doe sit change my view of the Father, son and Holy Spirit?images