Tag Archives: spiritual

In Community For Jesus

Have you ever seen ants work? I know it sounds ridiculous to start a lesson with that, but really, have you ever looked at ants and how work together? They work so well with each other, even without a leader, and yet they get things done, and they get them done together. The Bible actually mentions ants in Proverbs 6:6 and in 30:25. If you look real hard, they are carrying food, protecting their land, and even carrying their wounded off to safety. We try and do everything on our own without anyone’s help and along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve brought some good to the world by being independent. And the truth is, we actually need each other.

Living in Community

In Acts 20:17-38 ESV we read about Paul’s probable final meeting with the Ephesians elders. This meeting was very full of teaching the Gospel, warning and storytelling, In the final few verses it says this,

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Within this time of Christian community we see so much life, teaching, and love on the part of everyone. I know for most of us as people, we desire this. I love this is quote by Bill Clem, “A community of believers following Jesus can image God in ways that an individual simply cannot.”1 If you really pay attention to any book of the bible, most of them are full of commands and graces that are meant for listeners that in a community context rather than an individual. This word community has been distorted over the years and will probably conjure up ideas of communism or exclusive types of cults. This is not the case, God has a plan for us to work and image Him together. We must get out of our lone-ranger mentality of life and ministry.

There are marks of a Christian community worth mentioning, so that imitations can be easily pinpointed. First, a Christian community worships. This means that a Christian community loves truth, prayer and enjoys eating together. Second, there is belonging that cannot be found anywhere else in the world because there people that forgiven by Jesus, so they forgive. A beautiful picture of belonging is when Jesus washes Peter’s feet in John 13; we see the perfect example of servant leadership and refreshing friendship. And third, we image God together on mission as a witness.2 When we love the world together, more can happen then what we could ever do on our own. The real question begins to be, are you a consumer? Or are you a giver?

Common distortions when it comes to community are often caused by sin. Sometimes, difficulties in community can also stem from various ways in which certain members have experienced generous, fun or unbiblical fellowship. Four common distortions3 an slowly sneak their way into a community; therapeutic, business network, programmatic, and exclusive. I think we have all been there, therapy looks like an accountability group, networks are business meetings, programs are boring, and exclusive groups are creepy. “Community distortions prevent us from experiencing and expressing the salvation Jesus died to provide.”4

Memorize This Scripture

Mark 9:50 (ESV)

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

Personal Reflections

  • Read Acts 2:42-47
    • How would it look for our church for these descriptions to be true in our setting?
    • Does this excite you? Why?
    • Does this concern you? Why?
  • What type of distortion do you see you most prone to be involved with; therapy, network, program, or exclusive?
  • Take time now and plan to go to dinner or lunch with a group and find ways to integrate each other into the rhythms of everyday life. This might seem uncomfortable, but you all are mature adults, make it happen.

Things to Pursue on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

  • For a lot of people, the use of imagination sounds secular, though it can be secular, it doesn’t have to be. The imagination can be used5 to the glory of God when fenced in by scripture, God gave us our imagination. Spend time in prayer and worship imagining in your mind the beauty of God and joining with other faithful followers in worshiping Him. Imagine what it can look like to be faithful Christians together, and mirroring the church as described in Acts chapter 2.

Personal Study

  • Are you currently in community with other Christians, besides scheduled gatherings like Sundays or required meetings?
  • Read the beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5.
    • Could these teachings be applied to both an individual and in plurality? If so, why?
    • Look at the beatitudes, and make note in your journal how each can be applied in your personal and community life.
  • Study the scriptures laid out in table below, and evaluate if your life is bearing such fruit in your local community.6

 

Biblical Community
'One-Anothers' SCRIPTURE
Care 1 Corinthians 12:25
Forgive Colossians 3:13
Be Kind Ephesians 4:32
Submit Ephesians 5:21
Be Honest Colossians 3:9
Love John 13:35
Peace 1 Thessalonians 5:13
Hospitality 1 Peter 4:9
Serve Galatians 5:13
Instruct Romans 15:14

Action Points

  • While considering your family first, go out of your comfort zone and invite a family in your neighborhood to dinner inside your home, or out to a restaurant if you feel safer with that. I know, big step, but you’ll be surprised what doors can open when steps of kindness are pursued in the Name of Jesus.

Footnotes

COVER PHOTO Photo © Eko Adiyanto

Source: 1x


  1. Clem, Disciple, 123. 

  2. Ibid., 130. 

  3. Ibid., 141. 

  4. Ibid., 150. 

  5. Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul, 148. 

  6. Clem, Disciple, 136. 

Who We Are

Who am I? That seems to be the age old question, right?

“Left to themselves, humans never reach right answers to the question, “Why am I here?”1

Jesus had a lot to say about trying to figure things out apart from Him, Jesus says2

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

It is imperative we look to scripture to find meaning, truth and purpose for ourselves.

Image Bearers

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”3

In reading scripture, especially as leaders, we must view it as truth. And the truth explained here is simply this, we as humans are all made in the image of God, with dignity and value. In Genesis 9:6 it is repeated in a universal context when God speaks of His creation of man.4

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”

This following commentary explains this verse well,5

“It is true that image has been injured by the fall, but it is not lost. In this view, a high value is attached to the life of every man, even the poorest and humblest, and an awful criminality is involved in the destruction of it.”

In addition to this understanding of human value, we must realize that we have blown it, and we find ourselves in desperate need of redemption, and the redeemer is Jesus.

Jesus is always the hero, and history and all of its scenes point back to Him. In Colossians 3:9-106 it explains the need for the Holy Spirit’s power to renew our minds back to our image in God as Christians. It reads:

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Without Jesus, how we are imaging God is radically distorted by sin,7 and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are being transformed daily if we are in Christ.

The Bible says that His law is light (Psalms 119:105), and to image Him without distortion means to obey Him and follow His instruction to have life. A working definition of imaging God is clearly defined by Pastor Bill Clem, a Pastor at Mars Hill Church Ballard, he states,8

“Imaging God is the human capacity to declare God as your ultimate value through a life of worship, loving others, and bearing the fruit of being transformed by God.”

Memorize This Scripture

Colossians 3:2 (ESV)

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

Personal Reflections

  • This may take a while, but take time to journal and consider these following distortions of imaging God, and confess what distortion you may be mirroring in your own life to another friend. Please note the parenthetical scripture following each statement; it is the scriptural rebuttal to the preceding distortion.
    • I am what I do or whether I fail or succeed (Col. 3:12-14)
    • I am what’s been done to me (Phil. 3:8-10)
    • I am my relationships , roles and responsibilities (Matt. 7:24-27)
    • I am my roles and responsibilities (Phil. 4:11-13)
    • Sin as a noun (1 John 2:1-2)
  • What does imaging God look like and mean for us as leaders in our families and work-places?

Things to Pursue on Your Own

Spiritual Discipline

  • Lectio Divina is an ancient spiritual discipline that is still being practiced today by many faithful Christians. Based on your answer with the group questions of pinpointing your common identity distortion, practice with a lectio divina format using the proceeding scripture next to the distortion that you pinpointed with the group. The following set of stages and/or movements is the standard in lectio divina as described in Dr. Bruce Demarest’s book, Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality.9
    • Read (read the scripture slowly)
    • Meditate (think and ponder on the words of the scripture that jumped out to you)
    • Pray (ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand and be transformed, talk with God and worship Him)
    • Contemplate (just remain in His presence as He does His work, this may mean remaining silent for a while)

Personal Study

  • Do a study on Zachaeus in Luke 19
    • What was Zachaeus’ profession?
    • What was his identity distortion?
    • How did he understand this new gospel identity?

Action Points

  • Take out your spouse or best friend out to dinner and share with them how God is working in your life and how important that person is to you. Ask each other questions as to how you can image the gospel and a grace filled life to people around you, and how as Christians, you can image God together.

Footnotes


  1. Easley, K. H. (2002). Holman QuickSource guide to understanding the Bible (130). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. 

  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jn 15:5). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ge 1:26-27). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  4. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ge 9:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  5. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Ge 9:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc 

  6. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Col 3:9–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. 

  7. Clem, Disciple

  8. Ibid. 

  9. Bruce Demarest, Satisfy Your Soul: Restoring the Heart of Christian Spirituality (NavPress, 1999), 320.