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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This week we’re learning that our money, our time and our natural skills are resources to be used in ways that will allow God’s purposes to be realized. Amazingly we are given total freedom in this. There are no set rules or specific suggestions, only the objective. The challenge is to use our imagination and our creativity in thinking out how we will apply our money, for example, to this purpose. As we learn more about God our awareness of the opportunities to use our money in this way will increase….charities, individuals, families and church ministries will all show us ways we can make a difference.
I have seen three steps many Christians move through as they grow in generosity.
It begins with casual giving. This happens at the checkout counter in a store when they ask if you’d like to give a dollar to this fund or that. It also happens in a church service when a plate is passed, and you look to see what you can give today.
But often we move from there to another type of giving: responsible giving.
I know of one person who’d grown up going to church, but as an adult, was asked to join the advisory board. She accepted, and figured it would be a good idea to be at the annual meeting for the first time in her life, since she was on the board now. Well, the next day, she reported that it was a huge eye-opener. As she saw the budget, she looked at her own givings, and explaimed, “I just realized I’m the biggest cheapskate here!”
She had just become a “responsible giver”…someone who looks at the budget, and says I’ll do my part of the good work that’s happening here. Looks at world, says I should help.
Finally, many Christians move from responsible giving to proportional giving.
This is where we don’t just do our part, but instead we looked at our budget, figured out a percentage we would give every month, signed up for pre-authorized giving, and stuck to it. We have plans for our money…work on the house, new roof, etc. but we’ll have to save up for it, because we make sure our tithe comes out first.
What percent? There are several places in the Bible that talk about tithing—which literally means giving 10% to God’s work. It’s something from the Old Testament, when God’s people, the Israelites, were to give 10% of everything to God – crops, animals, everything. Is that the rule or percent?
But we have to remember how Jesus treats many Old Testament laws – he steps them up and makes them more challenging to our hearts.
He says his disciples’ “Righteousness is to exceed that of scribes & pharisees. – Matt 5:20
For example: The Pharisees and scribes avoided murder (one of the 10 commandments)…so Jesus wants his followers to not only never murder, but to also avoid anger. He shifts them from doing the bare minimum, to an actual change of attitude.
In the same way, if the Pharisees give 10% because they have to, what do we give if Jesus always calls us to have a change of attitude?
It’s to give, not until it hurts, but until it feels good again…until our attitude has changed from one of giving what we have to, to one of giving generously, because we love to give.
How do you choose your level of giving? Only you can decide, but identify where you are today, and challenge yourself to the next level…today, not tomorrow. Jesus always said those who were faithful with a little, are the ones he trusts to be faithful with a lot, so start where you are, no matter your income, no matter how little it may seem, because if you give generously out of love, it’s important to God.
Just to be clear – I’m not just saying this to boost Redeem the Commute's income! I am encouraging you to give generously to God’s work – whoever, wherever, however it is done. So long as it is work consistent with God’s plans for this world – so long as it is kingdom work.
Giving to Redeem the Commute, helping us become a new kind of church is a great way to do that. We need your financial help to keep helping marriages and families, and developing a community that can do that for the long term. You can give at https://www.redeemthecommute.com/donate/
But God’s work is much bigger than any one ministry!
Please give to a variety of ministries. Perhaps you can find balance by giving to Redeem the Commute as your church, and a Christian relief charity like World Vision, and a medical charity that's consistent with God's kingdom plans to heal the sick and hurting. And of course you want to be ready to help people in your life in need when they ask.
In the final analysis, stewardship is about the overflowing of a grateful heart in response to all that Jesus has done for us…..and so determine how much to give by determining what God has given and done for you. Then decide how you can say thanks.
Remember that we were made to be givers, but we have been socialized by a world that has lost its direction into believing that we are supposed to be keepers.
Challenge: Map out what you can give away every month, and the right blend for you. One suggestion is to set up a monthly gift to RTC at https://www.redeemthecommute.com/donate and a monthly gift to your other charities, and a savings account so you are saving for the future needs of your family and others you know who may need your generosity. Go to http://www.mygivingmoment.ca and register your moment there!
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.