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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Yesterday we defined worship as giving worth to God, or in other words, acknowledging he is at the center of our lives, or we want him there if he isn’t.
Worship is about practicing God’s Presence. We can forget God is there in our busy lives, and something tangible can help. A friend of mine mentioned Elf on the Shelf on Facebook. Elf on the Shelf is a small elf doll that parents are supposed to hide somewhere in the house every night, claiming he is a “scout elf” who reports back to Santa. The elf becomes a visible symbol for small children who might forget that Santa is watching.
Worship is meant to be a visible symbol for those of us who might forget God is watching.
In the busyness of our everyday lives, we cannot always remember that God is with us. In spite of our best intentions we may find ourselves living and acting without regard to the fact that God is present in every aspect of our lives.
Sometimes we think something in our lives is coincidence, but God is actually doing something incredible. Sometimes we will find resources are suddenly supplied that we needed, and will think it was luck or our skills, when it was in fact God’s provision.
We want to develop an increasing sensitivity to God’s presence with us. We know that we develop skills and get better at things by practicing: an old saying reminds us practice makes perfect. It would be more truthful to say that practice reinforces, but in this case reinforcement is good enough. We need a way to reinforce our awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
Question: When have you seen God working in the last week? What seeming coincidences were 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.