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 want to be a church known for generosity. Yesterday we saw two principles that a relationship with God teaches us about generosity, and we’ll see two more today.
What we have is not as important as what we keep
The third principle of stewardship has to do with attitude. This is a far more important consideration than how much money we happen to have. Stewardship has far more to do with faith than it does with money. How we look at what we have is far more important that how much we have.
Peter Marshall, who was chaplain of the United States Senate for many years, shared this true story:
There was a man who struggled to give even though he had a large income. He had long been taught to give 10% of his income away, which is called a tithe. The man said to Marshall, "I have a problem. I used to tithe regularly some years ago, but...but now...I am earning hundreds of thousands a year, and there is no way I can afford to give ten percent to the church."
The chaplain said they should pray about it and led off, "Heavenly Father, I pray that you would reduce this man's income back to the place that he can afford to tithe.“
Like the senator, one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that we will begin to give more generously when we have a little bit more. This is simply not true, the day never comes. Jesus said that those who are faithful when they have a little will be faithful when they have a lot.
The time to learn giving is when we have a little. It becomes increasingly difficult as our prosperity increases…remember those cords around our hearts.
How much we give is not as important as how much we keep
One day as Jesus sat in the temple with his disciples people came by with their offerings for the temple. Some of the people were quite rich, and they made sizeable donations. Among them was a poor widow who dropped in her gift of only a few pennies. Perhaps someone laughed…Jesus pointed out that this widow had actually given more than all the others.
Seeing their surprise at his remark he explained that all the others given from their wealth. They still had lots left. But this woman had given out of her poverty. She had nothing left. In the eyes of God her gift amounted to more than theirs. God evaluates things differently from the way we do. In this matter of financial stewardship it is important for growing Christians to remember how much we hold back is far more important than how much we give. Once again the issue comes back to whether or not we will allow Jesus to free us from the power of money and are we willing to trust God.
These same questions apply to how we use our time and how much of our time we are using to further God’s work around the world. How much time do we keep for ourselves and how much time do we give to God and those he loves?
Think of a child's allowance. The parents don't really give a child money because he needs it. They provide everything he needs. And they don't ask him to give to charity, buy gifts for others, etc. because he has too much. They do it to teach him something, to shape and guide him for the future.
Question: Based on these two stories, what do you think God is training people for? What's the end goal?
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.