Monday, July 18, 2016

God's Family Designed to complete God's Purposes

Names in the Bible, in Jewish culture, had a meaning. Names indicated a person’s nature, and character. Names indicated a person’s place in God’s purposes, in God’s family. There are places in the Bible where God gives someone a new name, because they had changed. The Bible also says when he establishes his forever kingdom, he will give his children a new name, their true name.

God designed people. God designed them to take a place in his family, in his purpose. He makes his family fit together perfectly.

His family is his vehicle to complete his purposes. Each part, each member, has a role. Each part builds each other part; they build, and add to the body. New parts included.

The health of a church is directly proportional to the number who have found their place. Not people being busy, doing chores. Not greeter, teachers, ushers, nursery workers, ushers, etc. Not that doing chores is bad. All organizations have chores to do to maintain smooth functioning. All parts of the body need to have servant hearts to do the chores. And teaching children is certainly not bad. God loves children. And there are people who place and anointing is in teaching two year olds. But, so much of church activity is filling empty slots. And God’s plan involves a priesthood of every member of his body. How many of God’s family have taken up their priesthood?

More about all of Christ's body being priests here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Unity, Not an Option

I have been thinking about someone I know with (what looks like) a relational issue with a friend and a sibling in God’s family. The two are not talking. They seem to be avoiding each other, and situations where they are likely to meet the other person. (And, of course, it might not be “them”. It might just be one of them.)

It seems like a natural solution. Suppose someone has an argument with a friend. Perhaps even a quite heated argument. It is easy to want to crete space, to avoid the other person. One does not have to deal with painful circumstances, the mess, or the possibility that one is wrong. Either in one’s position in the disagreement, or in one’s understanding of the other person’s position.

However, among the followers of Jesus, relationships are the building blocks of the kingdom. We need to take very seriously our relationship with God. We need to take very seriously our relationship with our family, with God’s family, with friends. And we need to take very seriously our relationship with those not in God’s family.

I will mention three things that I hope show how serious and vital relationships in God’s view of things.

First, Jesus prayed that the father would his family as united as he and the Father are united. Unity doesn’t just make life easier. Jesus says unity demonstrates that God sent Jesus into the world. Unity demonstrates that God loves the disciples. Personal arguments that affect interaction among God’s children, bad-mouthing other groups of Christians or other local families of God, all communicate a lack of unity. And disunity says God did not send Jesus. Disunity says the father does not love his children. Unity is vital, pivotal, and strategic.

Second, scripture says to make every effort to remain a connected, whole family. Without a real, demonstrated connection, God’s family demonstrates a pack of lies. The is only one body. “Body” being a metaphor for God’s family. Many different parts joined together, functioning harmoniously as a whole. It is the person by person distinctions that enable the whole to complete its purpose, God’s purpose. It is the distinctions we need to celebrate. And it the distinctions we usually use to bring separation.

[If we consider God’s universal family, all the different groups, we should be able to recognize that groups organize and derive their identity from their distinctive traits. Many assume that embracing unity means they have to suppress, or not prioritize, the things that distinguish them, which then robs or demeans their identity. We need to learn to affirm the common areas that define the whole family, and celebrate those differences. It is the differences which allow each body, and the universal body, to bring glory to God.]

There is not just one “singularity.” Each member of God’s family is:
  • In the same body
  • Gets life by the same spirit
  • Expects the same future
  • Follows the same Lord
  • Has the same type of relationship
  • Declares the same allegiance
  • Are created and empowered by the same Father.

Third, God does not call us to promote our distinctions. God calls us to promote Christ. God calls us to live in love. If our distinctions hinder the gospel, or the growth of any of God’s children anywhere, anytime, we are not walking in love. God speaks to us all the time. God’s strategy in each of our lives is unique, because  we are unique. We all wind up at the same destination. We may not necessarily be at the same place on the journey. So, sharing where you are on your journey, may be helpful and encourage others. Insisting others abandon their place, their walk, and their path, may not. It may even short-circuit God’s work in them. Love demands we build into others. Maturity gives wisdom, and discernment in how best to build.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Love Leads to the New Life - 4

To review: The writer prays that on the basis of our allegiance to Jesus:
  • God re-structures our hearts with the same power that created the world, that raised Jesus, that calmed seas, that multiplied fish and bread, and that healed the blind and the lame.
  • Christ dwells/abides/resides/makes his home with us.
  • Our lives are formed around his love. As we are connected to God by that love, as we draw nourishment with that love, we learn to understand the nature and extent of that love. (Even though it is beyond us.
The result is: We have all that God intends to give us. We are full. We are complete. The original says "fills to fullness." God tops of the tank, all the way up to the gas cap.

Power + Presence + Understanding Love = Fullness

So, why does life come up short? God promises his power and his presence when we give Jesus our allegiance. Can anything short-circuit either of these? What about "understanding love"? Is knowing "God loves you" enough? And what is fullness? Total Christ-likeness? Moral perfection?

It is certainly true that sin can break the connection between people and God. That's why personal honesty, and keeping "shorts lists" with God is important. In other words, deal with failures as soon and as completely as possible, so connection can be re-established.

But it seems the most dynamic "factor" in the "equation" is "understanding love." That understanding will affect a person's willingness to approach God after failure. It will color expectations of God's attitudes and actions in light of our failures. Will God reject us? Will God ever run out of patience? Out of kindness?

Many people equate God's love with their love, instead of the Bible's description of love. Many people assign Jesus one kind of love, the Father another kind of love, and the Holy Spirit another kind. Jesus is the perfect representation of God. They have the same heart. Within the God-head, there is perfect agreement. There is not three loves; there is one love. (Or, if you prefer, there are three loves, but they perfectly agree.) The Father does not look at us, or regard us differently, than Jesus does. The Holy Spirit does not look at us, or regard us differently, than the Father does, than Jesus does. There is perfect agreement.