Growing In Church Community:

Called To Be Rugged Individualists?

We live in a culture where “rugged individualism” is heralded as a good thing! The individual “self” is celebrated! The Apostle Peter—by divine inspiration—seems to offer an alternative view for the follower of Jesus: “Coming to Him (to Jesus) a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God—you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 2:4-5.

Who Are You?

He’s talking about our “identity”! This is “who” we are in Christ! First, we are “living stones.” By coming to Jesus, THE “living stone”, we become “living stones”, Peter says. Second, as “living stones” we are “being built into a spiritual house.” We were like dead rocks until Jesus saved us! But, now we’re “living stones”; and, becoming more like Jesus, THE “living stone.” And, He’s building a “spiritual house” with us! This is the coolest picture because it establishes our “identity” as “individuals” & as “community.” It confirms the prominence of “community” in our “individual” lives!

Conformed To His Image In Community

If you don’t “get” this, than you don’t “get” Jesus’ Church! This “building” process is how He sanctifies us; and, He uses the rest of the individual “living stones” who make up the Church—specifically, those in our individual “local” churches—to conform us to the image of Christ! He doesn’t build us, or sanctify us, in isolation! He uses the rest of the body, the “living stones”, to mature our faith! Practically, that means personal conflicts must not be viewed as a reason for leaving your local church; but, as God’s means to alter our own behavior for the unity of the body! Only then do we become a “holy priesthood”; and, a faith community that intercedes between Holy God & sinful man! Only then can we serve our nation; and, our cities as God’s mediators; and, faithful disciple makers! Only then do we become a city, set on a hill, that cannot be hid; a light that draws unbelievers away from the darkness of this broken world!

The Church Is Not Brick & Mortar

We are “living stones” that God is building into a living community of saints; a, spiritual house full of “priests.” We’re not a passive building, church! Don’t GO to Church; BE the Church! God indwells—not a building—but, a “people.” We will only find our true “identity” as Jesus builds us & adds us into His Church; this, spiritual house! When we know who we are, relationships will be birthed that will stand the test of time! We’ll take our ministry seriously—as a sacrifice of praise—with a sense of urgency! Our worship together will be sweet because Jesus is infinitely precious to us!

 

 

Advertisements

A Biblical Case For Social Media!

Social Media Is Here To Stay

Like it, or not, Social Media is hard-wired into our culture. Some social experts predict that in less than 10 years it will be nearly impossible to interact in the culture without being engaged in social media. In a practical sense, what does that mean for us as followers of Jesus?

The Gospel Requires Us To Interact With People

If we’re unable to interact with our culture, we’ll be unable to share the Gospel! If we can’t share the Gospel we’ll be incapable of fulfilling Jesus’ commission to His Church! That’s how serious it is!

Adapting To Our Culture!

When Hudson Taylor went to China, as a missionary, he was a pioneer when it came to cultural adaptation. At the time, the Church criticized him for adapting Chinese dress & for eating Chinese food with Chinese instruments & for living in Chinese housing & for observing the local customs and etiquette. Those methods seem only natural to us today, don’t they? We assume that a missionary will adapt to the culture; and, use every non-sinful method necessary to disciple people for Christ. But, what about our own context here in America? Should we respond any different to our own culture? Or, is that just for foreign missionaries? No! It’s not! We enter the “Mission Field” every time we leave our homes; and, every time we leave our churches! We have the same Biblical responsibility that Hudson Taylor had to embrace the non-sinful elements of our culture with the goal of winning as many as possible to Jesus.

Outdated & Irrelevant

When we’re “outdated” we become culturally irrelevant; and, an impediment to Gospel penetration in our society! The stakes are too high to reject the current culture just because it’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable to us! The “principle” from Scripture is quite clear—God values the sharing of the Gospel above cultural distinctives! If social media offers me a wider platform for sharing the Gospel, in the current culture, than I’m “enslaved” to do so! See the Apostle Paul!

Paul’s Heavy Words

Here’s what Paul says about cultural relevance: “I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel” -1 Corinthians 9:19-23

 

What About Near Death Experiences?

They’re Wildly Popular!

If it’s your goal to write a popular book, you might want to consider making “heaven” your subject matter. Don Piper’s book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, was so wildly popular—with more than 7 million copies sold in 50 languages—that they made it into a movie, Heaven Is For Real. It’s about a 4-year old boy’s near death experience. Another popular book, Miracles From Heaven, is about a sick girl’s near death experience; and, it also was made into a movie.

What Does Scripture Say?

So, what are we to make of these near death experiences? What light, if any, does Scripture shed on the subject? What we must affirm is that these experiences are subjective to the individual claiming to have experienced it; and, can not be held up as revelatory or inspired on an equal plane as the Word of God. If someone claims a near death experience that is contrary to Scripture we must choose Scripture and reject the experience.

Confused About Heaven?

There’s a lot of confusion, in the church, about heaven! I’ve talked with believers who assume it’ll be “boring”—sitting in the clouds & strumming a harp for all eternity! Where have we come up with all these fanciful notions about heaven? It’s not as if the Bible is silent about heaven! There’s enough revealed in Scripture that should convince every believer that heaven is too good for anyone to miss; and, that the alternative is too horrific to wish on anyone.

Keep It Gospel-Centered!

Our conversations with people need to be centered on & saturated in the Gospel, not heaven! Heaven might be the starting point because of all the books and movies out there that have captured people’s attention; but, we need the Spirit’s help to steer the conversation toward the gospel! We’re commissioned by Jesus to make disciples; not spend time hypothesizing what heaven might be like. So, the next time you find yourself in a gab session, about heaven, direct them to Revelation 21. Tell them it’s the most detailed information we have about what God & His Word says about heaven!

God Will “Pitch His Tent” Among Us!

God’s dwelling will be “with humanity, and He will live with them” according to Revelation 21:3. That word “dwelling”, in the text, means “tabernacle” or “tent.” The Apostle John is saying that God will pitch a tent and live with us in the new, heavenly Jerusalem. Try to grasp the beauty of what that means! Our struggles, in the flesh, to know God; to walk with Him; to know His heart, His will & His mind; will be ended! No longer will God be far off, distant, transcendent above His creation. We will see Him face to face; and, we will know Him!