Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Be The Church - II

The original word that is translated "church" is "ekklesia." It means "called out ones." It was used for a group of people, who were separated from other people for a special job. An example would be a city council, ie. a group of people who come together to decide what is best for the city.

God's family is an "ekklesia" called to represent God to each other and the world. They are to be a picture of what God is like ... both to those in the family of God, and to those still outside of the family of God.This representation should remind/inspire/enable others in God's family in what/how to improve the picture. And it should attract people so there is a change of heart and allegiance to Jesus. There should be movement toward God and his family based solely on the lifestyles of his family.

The Bible says that when God's family first banded together after Jesus' return to the Father, and together pursued living the revolutionary lifestyle, people chose to follow Jesus daily. The revolutionary lifestyle of God's family certainly accounts for some of this. The revolutionary lifestyle of Jesus himself account of much of this. Jesus sewed and cultivated his seed into society and culture. The church reaped from his work. God's family assumes they can continue to reap. But they need to learn how to sew and cultivate, so there is a preparation for reaping. All the work is in this preparation. We would all much rather reap.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Be the Church

Early in church history, the enemy worked hard to pollute and corrupt God's family. He lied, deceived and cheated some of God's children, so they woud live out those lies.

Church leaders responded by training and authorizing only those who were trained to interpret and share God's Word. This resulted in a dichotomy of God's family. God declared that his whole family would be priests. This decision made part of the family priests, and part of the family were dependent on the priests. This created a hierarchy within God's family that God never intended.

As Paul wrote Timothy, God's intention was faithful men teaching faithful men, resulting in a cascade of truth. Restricting access to God's word does not protect it. Empowering access to God's WQord protects it.

The old story is:Treasury agents learn to identify counterfeit money by becoming so familiar with genuine currency that any differences in a particular bill stand out like a sore thumb.

Jesus followers, as priests of the Most High, should be as disciplined, diligent and dedicated as those Treasury agents. Each should understand the gospel, God's mission and their part in the mission thoroughly.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


There was a common belief among the Jews of Jesus' day, that any bad thing that happens to people, is a result of evil they committed. So, when they found someone who was born blind, there was some confusion among the disciples. If someone is born blind, who committed the evil, the man or his parents?

Jesus' answer was totally unexpected. Neither. No person's evil. Rather the man's blindness was to demonstrate God's glory.

Then, he said something interesting. We all have assignments, job God gives us to do. We need to do them quickly, completely and thoroughly. And there is a time limit. The time limit is Jesus' presence in the world.

That doesn't necessarily mean that we who live now can sit on the laurels of those who came before us. Jesus' family is also his body. Jesus' family are his hands, his agents, and his SWAT team in the world. So, just as he was given assignments, his mission, his purpose is all in those assignments. Notice then, how important it is to pay attention, to keep the communication lines open between the head and the body. Unlike any corporation or army in the world, the chain of command in God's kingdom is short. The commander-in-chief gives every soldier his orders. There are zero intermediaries.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Sometimes I wonder about people. During his time among us, Jesus, on a couple of occasions, fed a large crowd (15,000 to 20,000 people) with one person's lunch. On one occasion, when the crowd realized what had happened, they wanted to make Jesus king. Since that wasn't Jesus' mission, he made himself scarce.

Well, that crowd decided to follow him. With a little detective work, the found him again. And Jesus told them that they were only following him because he fed them. He urged them to pursue their relationship with God, because that was the only thing the would feed their spirits in any kind of eternal way. The crowd said, "OK, we want to be right with God. How do we do this?" Jesus responded, "Choose as your first allegiance the one God sent." The crowd correctly recognized that Jesus was referring to himself, so they said, "We will if you show us a miracle."

Now, wait a sec. Didn't he feed this whole crowd just the day before with one person's lunch? That is why the followed him. That is why they wanted to make him king. Not flashy enough? Not mesmerizing enough?

I wonder what would have happened it Jesus did do another miracle. Would they have followed him? Or would they have said, "Sorry not good enough! Do another one!"

So, what is the deal? Were they afraid? Making him king was one thing, but choosing him for first allegiance another? Why do people see, hear and experience something that catapults them into a totally new existence, and others see, hear and experience the same things, and it causes their hearts to freeze?

Monday, May 13, 2013

True Light

The Bible describes Jesus as being "true light." "True light" is obviously a metaphor, because Jesus was a person. But light is what people need to successfully navigate. And people have a lot to navigate through:
  • What to give ultimate allegiance to
  • how to conduct life
  • what to value
  • what to pursue.
Jesus was true light, because he revealed the truth about these things. He not only pointed us toward God, but he revealed God. When we look at Jesus, we see a picture of God. We don not see the infinite attributes of God, but we do see the personal attributes of God. We see his conduct, his values, his goals and his attitudes. We see how God responds to positive events and how God responds to tragedy. And, therefore, we can see how we should respond. But probably of first importance, we can see who we give ultimate allegiance to.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


One of Jesus' primary concerns was for his disciples to live and function in unity. Unity is not uniformity.  Unity does not mean we live,  act, dress, or speak the same. Just as love demonstrates we follow Jesus,  our unity demonstrates God sent Jesus, and God is for us. There is some scripture that links love with unity.  So, it is not too hard to recognize how unity testifies to the truth of Jesus. 

One metaphor used to describe the church is the human body. Each person isa part of Jesus' "body." Just like the physical body,  the part s of Jesus's body have different functions.  The functions are intended to maintain the health of the body.  As I have written before, I believe the functions within the body of Christ are better defined as to build the kingdom, because some parts have the function of interacting with the environment, other people,  and the culture.  These functions are not intended to be focused internally. The Bible calls these functions "spiritual gifts."

The concept of spiritual gifts got lost for several centuries between Jesus's time and our time.  Of course, in God's economy,  there are things that are more important than gifts.  (Love is vastly more important than gifts. I think gifts are a subset of love. Each person's gift is a way God has given them to demonstrate love to others.) When it was re-discovered,  there was understandably a lot of confusion and ignorance. This was a new thing. There are more theories about what gifts are, how they are to function, how they are gotten, and how important they are in the overall scheme of things. And people disagree. And what God gave to express love and unity does the opposite.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Gospel - VII

I have been trying to describe how our relationship with Jesus is what the gospel is about. And I have been trying to describe what it should look like.
I have described what rules we should follow and responses we should give. All true, but not enough.

I was with a group of people recently, sharing what was going on in each person's life. One person mentioned that it seemed like either God had stepped up his activity, or that this person was becoming more aware of his activity. And the group began to share different moves of God each one had experienced recently, how they had responded and its effect on people. It was punctuated with such phrases as "God told me", "God said" or  "I felt God wanted."

God created us as communicating beings. And he is by nature a communicator. And though he doesn't communicate for the most part using audible words (although, I read a story, where a man said he believed God spoke to him audibly, and relatively recently), but part of the adventure is this moment by moment partnership. God attempting to use us as a laser, hitting the right spot with the right strength. So, somehow a person stays in tuned in, or regularly checks in, to get the fine adjustments to the current assignment.

Still, there are many ways this can play out. There are expectations based on culture, upbringing and personal history. There are responses based on spiritual gift, temperment, passion and place in the mission.

Culture can create strong individualism and strong community. There are strengths inherent in each. Community can draw on more resources and apply them to a common goal or problem. Gifts, talents, and passions give value and impact to each one's contribution.

Our walks and experiences of God are influenced by contexts of Jesus' commands, Jesus' expectations of what our motives, our behavior and our attitudes should be, the resources he gives us to contribute to his family and his mission, and our ability to maintain a close communion with him.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Gospel - VI

Does this mean there are no common areas of experience?

We mentioned a couple of posts ago, common rules or commands Jesus expected all Christians to practice. If people do the same things, one would think they would have the same experiences. (Of course, activity involving “love” can be more varied than activity involving, say, “skiing.”)

And experiences involving relationships have commonalities, even if there are differences between a relationship with a friend and a spouse. All relationships include communication, support, problem solving and completing shared ends.

Jesus talked about “fruit.” The word “fruit” meant things like apples and oranges. It also came to mean figuratively the results of something. For example, a man and woman come together, and a child could be the “fruit” of such a relationship. Jesus used the term to indicate the results or effects of living our lives.

In one place, Paul writes about the results of living without Jesus. And then, he directly contrasts them with the results of living with Jesus. These results are definitely things all Jesus followers should experience:
- Love 
- Joy 
- Peace 
- Patience 
- Kindness 
- Goodness 
- Faithfulness 
- Gentleness 
- Self-control
As we and the world are not perfect, our experience will not be perfect. But there ought to be a significant difference. It should show up in our relationships with friends and strangers, our dealing with difficulty and difficult people, and in our behavior driving.