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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As we become a church, a community of people learning to follow Jesus in sync even while apart, we are working to be commited to five key things. This week, we’re looking to be commited to generosity in our resources. We want to be known for this as a community.
One of the first church leaders, Paul, wrote this to Timothy, who he was mentoring to lead churches after him:
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. - 1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV
We asked yesterday if you knew anyone who worshipped money, and how you could tell. That’s exactly what Paul is warning about here. He doesn’t want the church to be a community where people set their hopes on material things. If we do, we will quickly find they are not eternally safe. Stocks fall, companies bankrupt, mortgages default, technology goes obsolete, and goods rot and rust away.
A right attitude about money and posessions doesn't start with rules, principles or anything on this earth, rather it starts with God himself. If you put your faith and trust in him first, you will see money and material differently as a result. We’ll look at four shifts in our thinking:
It All Comes from God
God is not trying to take money away from us. We are being invited to share in God’s work and to commit our resources to this work. This invitation is always a privilege. It comes from our need for God, not God’s need for us
The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell says something that Chrsitians have known all along. He looks at highly successful people in our world, and searches for the origins of their success. Not once does he find a self-made person who engineered 100% of their own success. Each had unique opportunities handed to them, that allowed them to excel. This is how Christians have always known our lives to work!
This is a shift: We are now managing the money, time and talents that have been entrusted to us by God, in order to make sure that God’s work is done. When applied to personal finances, to how we use our time and our natural skills and abilities, this is an absolutely radical concept. It goes to the very core of who we are and how we see ourselves.
We Need to Give
The conventional wisdom concerning money is that we have to learn how to hang on to it, not how to give it away.
We need to give in order to be free: The seductive power of money is undeniable. But it is disarmingly subtle. In ensnares us without our even being aware of it. It wraps chains around our hearts, our minds, our imagination without our even noticing….
There is only one way. The power of money can only be broken by learning to give it away. The basic question is simply, Will I control my money, or will my money control me ?
When we begin to give, the chains begin to break. This can be very uncomfortable, frequently it is painful. Yet once the chains are broken we experience the sheer exhilaration of freedom. Only then do we realize how tightly the chains were wrapped around our heart. Only then can we really understand what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We were created to give, not to hoard…Jesus wants us to be free.
We need to give in order to find fulfillment:
Enough always seems to be just a little bit more than I have right now. A study was done by an economist called George Barna and it shows that most people seriously believe that they need approximately $8-10,000 more a year to live the way they would like to and no matter how much their income increases they still believe they need 8k-10k more. They never find it.
People who give of their time and resources in service of others will tell you time and time again how incredibly fulfilling it is…that happiness doesn’t come from wealth, financial or otherwise, but rather because they are happy with what God has given, they are able to be contented and happy in all things, and that is a kind of wealth in itself that overflows into all parts of life.
Question: Have you ever found freedom or fulfillment in giving? Why?
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.