This is our new series on becoming like family. There are five main characteristics of the kind of community we’re forming. The first one:
Discipleship – what we’re learning together as a community. Here’s our guidance from the Bible on this characteristic. Comes from Paul, one of the first to start new church communities in the cities around the Mediteranean., reflecting here on what it means to be a church made up of different kinds of leaders and people, all learning the same thing.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15
Yesterday, I told you about having attended homecoming at the university where I studied engineering. Naturally enough, first year engineering students tend to think they will all end up in engineering careers. My experience, however, was that after graduating we end up in all sorts of professions. My own class includes actual engineers, but also those in business, consulting, full-time parenting, doctors, lawyers, rock climbing gym owners, urban planners, even running mobile apps for commuters.
But some common threads emerge – we have learned to think analytically to solve complex and diverse problems that might not have been anticipated.
We have a similar aim in discipleship. The point is not that all followers of Jesus will become automatons with no discernible differences. They are simply to have the same aim, purpose in mind, to learn to follower Jesus Christ and apply that to the many challenges of life. The idea is not to memorize rules, but learn maturity in Christ.
We can see this diversity in the five types of work in the church listed here. There are other lists, as well, but we’ll just use this example.
Teacher – Helps others study the Bible and learn to follow Jesus.
Shepherd – Helps others live as a follower of Jesus, through close relationships.
Evangelist – Tells the story of the good news of Jesus Christ in compelling ways.
Apostle – Develops and leads new church communities that reach new people and places.
Prophet – Tells it like it is, speaks for God’s interests when there is injustice and sin.
Question: Which of these five do you understand the least? Why might it be necessary?
Coffee Hours this Week:
Have questions about the challenges, do you want to meet others exploring the same content, or connect with Ryan?
Join us for our coffee shop drop-in tomorrow night, Wednesay, October 30th from 7:30pm-9:00pm at the Starbucks in the Ajax Chapters. Look for Ryan Sim in the drink line, or a Redeem the Commute postcard on a table.
This week we’re exploring how following Jesus impacts our lifestyle by one principle: grace. Grace is one of the most important, life-changing aspects of Christian story. Here’s how the Bible talks about grace:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)
Here is an easy way to remember the meaning:
A friend had a young child at home, and a baby on the way and his mother loved to help out by cleaning up the house. One particularly stressful time she was coming down to decompress the situation by cleaning up the house. My friend came home that day to find his wife madly cleaning up the house, before the mother in law arrived. She didn’t want her mother-in-law to see a messy house, even though she was there to clean it as a gift.
We so often we think that we have to have cleaned up our lives before we can accept what God wants to give us. We don’t have to have sorted ourselves out before we can accept God’s free gift of forgiveness, his grace.
When you ask someone why they don’t like Christianity…you’ll often hear “it’s just a bunch of rules.” I don’t need a book to tell me how to be a good person. If that was true, I wouldn’t want to be part of this religion either.
But it’s not true…that’s the religion that Jesus came to get rid of, and not his hope for us. Here’s the version of Christianity that people are usually describing:
Obey God’s laws
God will accept you
He’ll provide you with loving care
He’ll give you a new status, as a servant of God.
This is a law religion, the kind of thing the Pharisees liked to promote. Jesus didn’t have very nice things to say about that!
The problem is – no one has ever obeyed God’s laws perfectly enough to earn God’s love. Actually, there was one person – Jesus. He knew our hopeless situation, and did something about it. Jesus was all about grace. This involves the same steps, but in a different order:
God loves and accepts you…unconditionally
God will provide you with loving care. He wants to be part of your life today, not some day in the future.
God will give you a new status: Child of God adopted into his family
You now return God’s favour with thanksgiving and living in his way.
In grace…we are given God’s love, care and fatherhood as free gifts, even before having proven ourselves worthy, and that gives us a lot to live up to!
Question: Where have you typically seen laws and rules in your faith? As the way to earn God’s love, or respond to it? Why?
Reminder: Last week we talked about worship, and asked you to complete our online survey about worship here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8TS7K93
Reminder: Earlier in this series, we saw the importance of reading the Bible together in sync, so our new daily bible readings start today in our mobile app and web site.
This series looks at becoming “like family” with others learning to follow Jesus. We're exploring how the church is not a building, institution or event, but a community of people. It's important that explore what church means as we prepare to launch a new church in Ajax in 2014.