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
Share a Link to this Message
The link has been copied to your clipboard; paste it anywhere you would like to share it.
We are a few weeks into a new series on “Becoming Like Family”. This is important as members of our online community begin to share the daily challenges with friends, and we begin to gather our larger community together as one church community. We won’t be bound together by a building, or institution, but rather by five commitments. We’ve talked about commitment to common learning goals, connectedness as a community of small and large groups, connectedness to God in worship, and now this week, we come to grace in lifestyle.
Those who’ve decided to follow Jesus, and walk in his path, are going to have to choose this over other paths. These choices impact many areas of life. That should be no surprise, but sometimes it’s hard to swallow. We can recoil from rules, or worry about restricted freedom.
We’ll explore that this week, but it starts with understanding why we are asked to live by, and with, grace.
But what does grace mean?
There is a classic Seinfeld episode where Elaine is in a job interview, and the interviewer shares her admiration of Jackie O, who had “grace”. Elaine tries to say, “I think I have a little grace” but the interviewer snaps back, “You can’t have a little grace, you either have it or you don’t.” Elaine backpendals, “Alright, I have no grace. I don’t have grace, I don’t want grace. Hey, I don’t even say grace.”
You can see the confusion here – what does grace even mean? Is it poise and kindness? Is it a lovely name for an old lady that is finally making a comeback? Is it a prayer before a meal?
Question: What do you think of when you hear the word grace? What does it mean?
Reminder: Last week we talked about worship, and asked you to complete our online survey about worship here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8TS7K93
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.