We are working toward becoming one church community united by common learning goals, even as we are scattered commuting people.
This week we’re studying a passage from Ephesians that includes this line: “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 want to highlight the process involved. The aim is to become more and more like Jesus, not just in outward appearance, but completely, the “full stature”. This is clearly not instant, but a maturing process, since no one on this earth has ever been completely like Jesus.
I have shared a few stories from when I studied engineering, and the importance of learning problem solving and analysis. That principle can be applied to any scenario, even the unprecedented and complex ones.
Discipleship is about theological problem solving in similarly complex and unexpected situations. Paul was involved in discipleship to help his church members avoid being thrown around by every idea, doctrine like a small boat in wind and waves.
Contrast a road and ocean. Some want faith to be a roadway, with clear boundaries, signs, maps and directions to follow. But the problem is that real life is much more like an ocean, where you can’t give a plan for every scenario , but follow a compass heading with a specific end in mind, but the actual journey will be less strictly defined. This is the pursuit of discipleship, to set a compass heading of what the bible calls “Christlikeness” – becoming like Jesus Christ. We will get there by navigating all sorts of wind and wave action, and keeping focused on the end goal.
This is a series on church community, becoming like family. Discipleship is a family effort, done in a group. I remember engineering projects that would have been impossible for me to do it alone – I knew one aspect of the project, while others knew theirs, and together we accomplished something greater than any one of us could do on our own.
In the same way, we aren’t meant to grow as a disciple alone. We need challenge, encouragement, and complementary gifts like the five we saw yesterday.
Question: Are you more comfortable in a spiritual ocean or roadway? What part of life feels like an ocean today?
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 tonight, 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.
If you know in advance that you’re coming, please RSVP here
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We asked yesterday if you could list of what comes to mind when you hear the word “church”. Our lists probably included buildings, events and services. It may have included organ and choir music, stained glass windows, dusty books, bake sales and more. It may evoke good experiences, or bad ones.
But not how the Bible usually sees “church”. Church is described in several cases as a family. This is why our vision is to become a church made up of many groups who are “like family” with one another.
But you might immediately think this means something strange and cultish, usually because our ideas of family today is pretty narrow. We think of family as the nuclear, immediate family in isolation.
But in Jesus’ culture, in some cultures today, and not so long ago in Western culture, the family was the word used more naturally to describe an extended network of relations, often living in the same area.
That was the context for family in Jesus’ day, and Jesus had plans to develop a new kind of extended family. Here’s a striking moment when he described his plans to create an alternate family:
Matthew 12:46-50 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
On the one hand, it seems Jesus just put down his mother. I just saw “Guilt Trip” where Barbra Streisand plays Seth Rogen’s overbearing mother. She calls several times a day, tries to get him to drink water constantly, and so on. In the middle of their road trip, he finally snaps, and tells her off.
It seems like that might be what Jesus is doing to his mother here. Is he putting her down, in his plans to join another family? Look at it another way. Jesus is actually elevating his disciples to family status. His followers, fellow practitioners of his kingdom, are his family.
She’s not excluded. Later in the story of Jesus’ life and death, we see Mary his mother appearing as a devoted member of this extended family, and Jesus even assigns one of the disciples to look after her after his death, saying he’s her new son, and vice versa.
Jesus isn’t narrowing his definition of family to exclude blood relatives. He’s broadening it, to include his extended family of followers as if they are blood relatives.
Question: Imagine your immediate family suddenly adopting a dozen new members. How would it change your way of life? What would be the pros and cons?
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.