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, I introduced the idea of grace with a diagram. We will build on that now, so if you missed it, go back and watch Tuesday’s content.
Grace is the most powerful force in the world, it is what makes Christian faith stand out like a jewel---the world craves it---people are so hungry for grace, often desperate for grace---and grace is there for all people.
Imagine grace in Syria, imagine grace in Iraq, imagine grace in a time of marriage breakdown, in your workplace. Just imagine grace everywhere…grace says there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, there is nothing I can do to make God love me less…how would that change the way people act in our world?
Imagine grace in your life…a fresh start, forgiveness, a relationship with God, and hope for the future. A certain way of life, of obedience to God’s way of living is an important part of this, but as outcome, the thanksgiving for God’s love, rather than a way of earning it in the first place.
We’re invited to practice living in God’s kingdom now. This affects many areas of our lives. It reorders our priorities, views of success, sex and marriage, money and possessions, and the poor. That is a big, loaded list.
From the outside, although it looks strange and different, those who practice living God’s kingdom here and now in these ways find that it’s exactly what they were created for – that they’re living according to the script written for their lives and their world, and it’s a natural fit like none other, even though it’s new and different.
We all want to be free, and so sometimes when we hear about laws, living a certain way, we think someone is trying to control or take away our freedom. But imagine a train, that gets bored running up and down its tracks, and looks at countryside, longing to be “free” of the rails. If it does hop the rails, it will meet with disaster and destruction, not happiness and freedom. A train is not designed for fields, but designed for tracks. A train is never more free than doing what it was designed to do...run on tracks.
It’s the same with humans, we’re designed by creator with a specific way of life. For best results, follow maker’s instructions.”
Question: Have you ever gone off the rails in life, thinking you were enjoying your freedom? What helped you get back on track?
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.