“Just as we don’t get to chose which gifts we are given, so also we don’t get to chose what God intends for us or for the church. The Spirit has a plan for our lives, for each of us. And He has a plan for the church, including your individual body and the worldwide body of Christ.” — Francjs Chan “Forgotten God” (p 73)
My buddy, Micah wrote a fabulous post on the centrality of the Church to the Christian life. It echoes much of what I’ve been thinking about this weekend. He’s given me permission to repost it, so here it is:
The Church is a living organism, the body of Christ, that can not be snuffed out. It is breathing, full of people who have issues. People with pain, scars and dysfunction-galore. But it is still the beautiful and holy body of Christ. One of our biggest issues is being the Church in the peripheral and letting everything else be our focus. The Way, the Christian path, the Church wasn’t mean to be a part-time-when-it’s-convenient-gig. It was meant to be a life-gig. It was meant for every follower of Christ to live in and it and be the Church all the time.
I’m not just talking about meeting together on Sundays and in homes for community groups. I’m talking a whole life-style. But we tend to live the Church life in the peripheral. Not even prioritizing the most basic of Christian practices, the Sunday morning gathering of the body of Christ. How can a part of the body of Christ function without communicating with the rest of the body? How can an arm be any good without the hand? How can a foot make any difference without a hip?
Let’s get basic. Let’s begin to prioritize the body and the mission of building the Kingdom of God by Investing in our non-Christian friends and family and Inviting them to join the gathering of the body of Christ.
The Church is the Body of Christ.
We represent him to the world.
In this, we ought to be righteous and pure.
I believe he’s working that in us.
On the other hand…
The Church is the Bride of Christ.
We display His unending love and grace.
In this, we embrace brokenness and imperfection.
Because he loves us in spite of these things.
The next time you’re frustrated by something that happens (or doesn’t happen) in your church, don’t become jaded.
Instead, repent, seek holiness, and be reminded of how great God’s mercies are for us.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:28
Tonight was the first night back to our life group (aka small group, aka bible study) after a month long hiatus. It was great to see our friends again, hear what had been going on in their lives, and spend some time discussing Philippians 3.
Sarah and I are facing a big decision today so we felt led to have our group lay hands on us and pray for wisdom. It was a beautiful moment to feel surrounded by a group of people who cared about us and wanted to join with us in our decsion. It reminded me that God’s plan to show His love to the world is the Church. Jesus said that people would know we were His followers by our love for one another. I felt that tonight.
There were no clouds opening up to pour out answers, the decision was still difficult, but we knew we were loved and secure no matter what.
There’s a mini-mart down the street from my office that has this painted on their front window:
“HOME OF THE REALLY GOOD BREAKFAST BURRITO.”
I’d go take a picture of it, but I’m too lazy.
Maybe it’s just me, but really good just isn’t a great selling point for me. There are lots of products that are really good, but not really worth bragging about. I can make a really good burrito, but I’m not going to tell everyone to come buy it. To me, really good is code for really safe. It doesn’t make any type of audacious claim as being life changing, or the best ever, or worth dying for. It’s just really good.
Let me get to a point. The really good burrito makes me think of the ways the Church tries to market really good: “Oh yeah, we’ve got a really good worship team.” “Attendance was really good.” “We’re in the middle of a really good series right now.” We seek to be proficient at all these things, without understanding that really good often isn’t enough. People are really looking for things like really authentic, really impassioned, really life changing, and really real.
“…the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14 ESV
Growing up, I always imagined the Pharisees and other religious leaders to be really mean old men who just hated people and didn’t want to see them get healed. The older I get, the more I realize that they were guys who were just really into their church service. They cared so much about their order of service that they placed it above the healing–physically and spiritually– of the people. I know that’s a simplistic way of explaining their dedication to the Sabbath, but really, that’s what it boils down to.
I’m a rules guy. I like order. I like clean execution. My prayer is that I never let my attention to detail drown out a love for people and the grace to serve them. I pray that I never tell people that it’s the wrong day to be healed.