Sharing Life in Jesus

Sharing Life in Jesus

May 07
Sharing Life in Jesus

I want to write about something that has been on my heart for a while, now.  I’m not sure how it will be received, but I know I need to write it…

Our weekend worship is the least important thing we do as a body of believers.

In many ways I am ashamed of what we have done to Christ’s church, His beloved, His bride.  He intended the church to be about relationships, about life and sharing it together in Him.  We were meant to live in community.  Instead, we define community as an event.  It has a start time and an end time and has very little to do with how we see our lives.  Community is someplace we go or something we do.  It has very little to do with who we are.

I think most Christians understand very well the vertical nature of relationship.  We get that we have a relationship with God that is ongoing and never-ending.  It isn’t comprised of discrete moments, but is instead continuous.  We don’t just spend time with God at proscribed times or as part of specific events.  We have a relationship with Him that means more to us than anything and many of us refuse to let that be constrained by time.

However, when it comes to our horizontal relationships — well, that’s a different story.

Most of what Jesus had to say was about relationships.  And most of that was about our relationships with each other.  Even the Ten Commandments were about relationship:  the first five are about our relationship with God and the last five are about our relationships with each other.  From cover to cover, the Bible is about relationships.  We’re fairly comfortable with the vertical part — our relationship with God.  It’s the horizontal part that we have trouble accepting.  And for some reason, we don’t see it as impacting our relationship with the One who told us to have relationships with each other.  The same God who we want to have a deeper relationship with is the same God who told us to have deep relationships with each other.  He told us to love each other as He loved us.  Be patient and gentle with each other.  Forgive one another.  Bear one another’s burdens.  Be devoted to one another.  Honor one another.  Live in harmony with one another.  God says we owe a debt of love to one another.

Most Christians will agree that they owe a debt to Jesus.  A debt that they can never repay.  He says that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.  Then He commands us to love.

Think about the first small group:  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  Living in community as one.

God made us in that very same image.  To live in community.  As one.  Jesus even prayed for it.  He begged God to make us one in the same way that the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father.  Jesus asked God to give us that same unity, that same sense of community, that same sense of belonging to each other.  The apostle Paul, writing what He was instructed by God’s Spirit to write, teaches that we are one body with many members and that these members do not all serve the same function.  We get that.  We like that.

But we leave the next part out.  Where Paul writes “each member belongs to all the others.”

Could God really mean that I belong to you?  That you belong to me?  That we “own” part of each other?

You bet He does.

He bought us.  Paid for us with a price beyond anything we can ever be worthy.  And then He gave us to each other.  He has essentially said that if we want to try to pay Him back that we need to love each other in the same way He loves us.

Many of us seem to be saying, “No God!  Anything but that!”

If I were to ask about your family, maybe how they’re doing, who would you tell me about first?  Your children?  Your spouse?  Your parents?  Your siblings?  How many family members would we talk about before we started talking about our spiritual family — the one God made us part of ?  I wonder if that tells us anything about how we define family and how we see ourselves in the body of believers.

I am a firm believer that priority is observed.  You can tell me all day long what you believe, or what your vision statement is, or what your priority is.  However, how you act will tell me far more.  In general, the two most precious things we have are time and money.  How we spend them tells us about priority.  Show me where you choose to spend your money and I’ll show you your priority.  Show me where you choose to spend your time and I’ll show you your priority.

Let’s try it another way.  Suppose that this Sunday your pastor said that you are all going to sell your homes and move in together.  You’re going to be one big family, all living together, sharing everything.  Most of us probably cringe at the thought.  And yet that’s precisely what Jesus has told us Heaven will be like — we’re all going to live together.  Unfortunately, we’ve “Americanized” Heaven.  When we think of Heaven, when we picture living there, we all have our own mansions, places of our own.  Some of us even like to joke about who will have a bigger mansion in Heaven.  Even in Heaven, we see ourselves living apart from each other. Next door, maybe, but not together.

That kind of togetherness is apparently something we think God has reserved for Himself, that only God can live in that constant, perfect community.  The same God who made us in His image.  Who has called us to community.

Jesus repeats many times how He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.  That they belong to each other and are “owned” by each other.

Imagine a pyramid.  Now suppose God is standing on the top of the pyramid.  You and I are at the bottom of the pyramid and we each are climbing toward Him with all our might.  It is impossible for us to draw closer to God at the top of the pyramid and not draw closer together because the pyramid is angling us toward each other.  I think life, as God intended it for us, is no different.

There are over 50 “one another” commands given to us in the New Testament.  Personally, I think God meant them.  Every one of them.  For whatever reason, God has chosen to use us in the lives of each other.  For better and for worse we are in this together.  You are not your own.  You do not own yourself.  You belong to me.  And I need you.  God blesses me through you.  Sometimes He speaks to me through you.  Sometimes He loves me through you.  Sometimes He comforts me through you.  Sometimes He meets my material needs through you.

I don’t own myself, either.  Whether you want me or not, I belong to you.

I’m going to close with a paraphrase of Romans 12.  This is my own version of the chapter, the way that I hear it.  I don’t for a minute claim that this is Scripture — this is merely my own take on it.  I hope that it pleases my God, that it blesses you as you read it, and that it encourages you to rethink what it means to share life in Jesus.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of living for others rather than for yourself.  Given what God has done for you, can you really justify living any other way?  You want to please Him because of His sacrifice for you, so rather than continuing in the same mindset that you have learned from this world, let God transform your mind.  Then you will finally understand the joy that He has planned for you from the beginning of time — something beautiful, perfect, and magnificent.  Part of this transformation means not thinking more of yourself than you should.  In fact, stop thinking about yourself!  God made all of us part of the same body and no part is more important than any other.  Just like our physical bodies have many parts that all serve different purposes but need the other parts to survive, God designed His body to be the same way — we all belong to each other and we need each other.  God has blessed each of us, by His grace, with different purposes.  If you are the tongue, then speak the words of the King.  If you are the legs, then walk as if you are carrying the King.  If you are the brain, then share the thoughts given to you by the King.  If you are the heart, then pump vitality into every member of the King’s body.  If you are the hands, touch as if you were touching the King.  If you are the eyes, then see the King.  If you are the feet, walk where the King has led.  Whatever purpose you have been given, perform it as if you are performing it for the King this very moment.  Always be sincere in your love, fleeing from what is evil and clinging to what is good.  Devote your life to others, treating everyone as if they were better than you, maybe even as if they were the King Himself.  In everything you do be joyful, patient, and faithful — live as if you are grateful for the grace given to you.  Remember what has been given to you and give it to others, especially those who need it.  Call on God to bless those who treat you poorly, remembering how you once treated your King and that He died to save you anyway.  Never wish ill or harm on anyone — again remembering that you have been spared what you deserved.  Be excited for those who are excited and hurt for those who hurt — it doesn’t matter if it affects you or not.  Share in it because it matters to them and they matter to the King.  Live in peace with everyone, never forgetting who you once were and how high you have been lifted.  Even when you see someone you consider unworthy or beneath you, remember that you are who you are only because of your King.  Always do what is right, even if it isn’t in your own best interests.  Never, never, ever give someone what you think they deserve — your King has given you far better and expects you to do the same.  It is for the King alone to decide what someone deserves.  Those who deserve punishment will receive it, but only from the King and only at the time of His choosing.  As for you, meet every need that you see — it is not for you to decide who is worthy.  The King has called you worthy.  Act like it by trying to show the same grace He gave you, loving His people with the same love He has lavished upon you.”

2 comments

  1. Melinda

    Thank you for posting this, the Holy Spirit has been saying the same things to our pastor here at The Well in TN. In fact, last Wednesday pastor Dave mentioned something about speaking on the community of believers for Sunday services. I mentioned this blog post and sent it to him. Pastor Dave said God had been convicting him of similar things and your blog ended up becoming part of his sermon Sunday morning. God is definitely trying to get a message across to His followers about living in authentic Christian fellowship. And how cool that I get to hear your post being sited from the pulpit! Maybe someday we will get to hear you from the pulpit ;-) Dustin sent you a link to pastor Dave’s sermon, I hope you enjoy it and are blessed by the confirmation of what God is revealing to you. Isn’t God amazing to connect our hearts in community beyond geographic boundaries! Hope you and Kim are able to come back to TN for a visit soon. God bless.

    • I wish I could claim that this was my idea or that these words are my own. God had this idea long before I did. Many others thought of it before me. Regardless, it’s a new discovery for me. From what I’m hearing, it’s a new discovery for many people.

      I am so thrilled to see just how far this connection goes and how large a family God has created!

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