Yesterday, we explored how a church community is meant to be a gathering, sometimes even just for fun and fellowship.
You might think church has always meant a religious gathering of Christians on Sunday morning. But in the Bible’s Greek language, church had another meaning before that. The Greek word for church is ekklesia which literally means “an assembly” or “gathering of people”. But not just for its own good. It’s called out to be and do something specific. This week’s passage says gathering together is not just for encouragement to love, but for encouragement to good works.
We are meant to be a preview of the world as God wants it to be. We are meant to make people say wow. Unlike the church I described yesterday, people are supposed to look at our community (even at its business meetings) and say, “Wow! That’s how we are supposed to relate with each other, and our world, and God. I can see it now!” They are meant to see the Kingdom of God in us.
Aristides was a philosopher in Athens in the second century and he observed the first Christians, the early church, and this is what he recorded about them in 125 AD.
“They walk in humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them. They love one another. He that has distributes liberally to him that does not have. If they see a stranger they bring him under their own roof and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother.”
Aristides looked at that first church, that earliest gathering of Christians and he said WOW.
Have you ever looked at a team, group or organization and said, wow? Why? Think of the Snowbirds, or a great dance troupe.
Our church today meant to make people say wow…because of our generosity and love of one another, that spills over to the lives of others near us.
We’re intending to becoming this kind of church through our discussion groups first, and also when our discussion groups come together as one community for celebration.
Challenge: If you’re not already meeting with a group, please do. What act of generosity and service can you do with your discussion group, or family, that will make others in your life say wow? Think of one thing internal to your group that you do for each other, and one thing your group does for others.
Reminder: Last week 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.
Read the Bible in Sync Today
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Every family has routines and values, and these are closely connected. Take suburban family life as an example. On the surface, we can see routines: wake, eat, drop-off at daycare/school, commute to work, work, commute home, pickup kids, make and eat dinner, get everyone to bed, and repeat.
But we have to ask what values are behind that. Why do families move to the suburbs? There are choices, you could live in country, or the city. Why here?
For some, it’s where they grew up. Others want to be close to parents, or want their kids to have a yard of a certain size, or to be near nature.
Whatever the values, we chose the routine because of those values.
Yesterday, we saw Jesus shake up his family routine because he was pursuing a higher value. He called it the will of his Father in heaven. We have called these kingdom values, and it can be distilled down to loving God, and loving neighbour.
Jesus is challenging the extended family norms of his day, and replacing them with a new one. A new kind of family. With this new family will come new routines, all because of those founding values.
The other direction works, too.
We are trying to instill some routines in my family like saying a prayer before a meal (grace), asking our son the best and worst part of day, so we can say thanks to God in prayer, and ask for help or say sorry for the low parts of the day. We also read a Bible story and say a prayer at bed. We do this in hopes that our son will learn some values from those routines.
Let’s start simple, and look just at what it means to love God, and love neighbour.
Question: Based on the values of love God, love neighbour, what do you think Jesus’ family routines would be like? What could your immediate family’s routines look like?
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.