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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This week, we’re exploring how a church community should be committed to connectedness to God in worship.
Humans will never be more connected to God than in the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God. The Bible includes the book of Revelation, which recounts John’s vision of the kingdom of heaven. Here’s what he described about angels, and then humans:
Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE Lord GOD ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS, AND IS, AND IS TO COME." Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." (Revelation 4:8-11)
Even in the kingdom, there is worship. The word may not appear in this reading, but the core meaning is there. Worship means “to give worth to something.” And the words “you are worthy” are right at the beginning of the words the elders say in their heavenly worship.
You can tell what someone values by how they spend money, time. You can see what’s worth their limited resources. Worship is spending our limited time on God. It’s an expression of love.
In our Marriage and Parenting courses, we introduce the five love languages. Some communicate and receive love through words, touch, acts of service, time, and others through gifts.
In the same way, we can show love to God through various “languages”. Worship includes prayer, and music, confessing sins, asking forgiveness, reminding ourselves what we believe, reading the Bible together, and more. All aspects of how communities of Christians worship.
These are all ways to communicate God’s worth in our eyes. You can see it in this reading. The elders say, “You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power” but then they tell him why: he is the creator of everything.
He knows all this, of course. But this is a time for humans, mortals, to feed that back to him. To acknowledge he is at the cetner of our lives, not the periphery, and we’re not going to deny it.
Question: How do you know someone values you? What do they say, do, or not?
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.