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.
Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, 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 and Wednesday’s content.
You may be familiar with the Ten Commandments. They are an important part of the tracks that God has created for our lives, the guidelines that keep us from self-destructing.
Where did they come from? They are over 3400 years old. God led the Israelites out of danger and slavery, then gave the laws by which this newly freed people were to organize their life together. Of all these laws, the Ten Commandments come first and take most important place.
In a few minutes, please watch the attached video to hear the commandments in detail. But first we need to know purpose first, to understand the commandments in their proper place…lest you come away from this thinking that Christianity is all about following a bunch of rules.
A common misconception is to make “Obey God’s laws” #1 as if it could qualify you for a life of knowing God. Sometimes Christians communicate the rules like they are number one, having forgotten how they came to know the God who helps them keep those commandments. Knowing God qualifies you to try and follow these commandments…God is working in and through his followers to help transform their lives from the inside out.
This was certainly true for Israelites. God, in his love for the Israelites, saved them from slavery in Egypt by parting the red sea. Only once they were safely on the other side of the sea from the Egyptians did he give them the commandments, and call them to live by those commandments in thanks for the gift he’d given them.
The 10 commandments answer the question: “How can I live to thank the God who has loved me so much?” Not how can I behave to earn God’s love, or avoid his hate. Not how can I get others to live by my rules?
Take a quick run through these commandments.
The Commandments deal with two things:
Relationship with God
Relationship with One Another.
The last commandment is unique, since it talks about contentment. This one may seem a bit different from the others, and it is. The others focus on our outward actions, what to do and not do, while this one focuses on our hearts, what to want and desire, and what not to.
God is in the transformation business. He not only wanted to see the Israelites as a transformed society, but also to see the minds of all his created human beings transformed in this way.
The Bible contains many other guidelines, principles and laws. We don’t have time to go through them all here. Life is complex, and there is not a specific rule for everything. But these principles, the 10 commandments, or even just the 2 commandments to love god and neighbour, or the principle of grace behind them all, can apply to any area of life. I am happy to help you interpret and apply if you have a specific question.
Watch the 10 Commandments in the extra video.
Challenge: Show grace to someone today. Give them a gift they don’t deserve.
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.