Tag Archives: community

Matthew 10

10 Feb

37″Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

What kind of Jesus do I present to people? For many people these are strong words and the Jesus that they have heard of really doesn’t have the credibility to say them. For many people when they think of Jesus they think of hypocrisy in the Church. When they think of Jesus they think of having to sit through boring sermons or ceremonies. When they think of Jesus they think of someone entertaining them with words and music for an hour. For many the Jesus they have heard of and experienced just doesn’t have the credibility to say these words.

I know that when we come around to teaching this at Ecclesia that the people who are going to hear these words will filter them through the community that they have experienced. If we are a community that represents the body of Christ well then these words make sense. If we are a community that doesn’t represent the body of Christ well these words won’t make sense.

I know that the argument can be made that if you preach these words then the Spirit of God will convict the heart. I absolutely agree with that. But the Spirit of God shows up in cultivating the hearts of the people in the community who call themselves the church. If you look around and the people in your community aren’t being transformed by the Spirit of Christ and changed to live like Jesus then I would say don’t expect the Spirit to just show up and change a persons heart during your sermon. I think the two are intrinsically linked.

So does my faith community live (albeit imperfectly) in such a way that Jesus is the treasure of their heart and in a way that they have discovered that in dying to themselves they have found new life?

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Matthew 11

12 Jan

Continuing to go through the book of Matthew looking at one chapter a day and offering a thought, question, or quote. Today it is Matthew 11:

11:4Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.

When John the Baptist was in prison he had to be confused. From what we know in Matthew 3 and the other gospels, Jesus was the Messiah, and as the Messiah it meant that the kingdom of God was breaking in. But if it was breaking in why was John in prison. Why did things get worse? So John sends disciples to Jesus to ask if he is really the one we’ve been waiting for.

Notice Jesus doesn’t say “yes.” Instead he answers with the implications of the gospel breaking in: blind seeing, lame walking, those with leprosy cured, the deaf are now hearing and the poor are the first people in on the good new. Jesus points to community as the final apologetic. Can we?

We can have book smarts and argue for our faith and we can tell convincing, tear jerking stories to try to convince people to believe or we can point to the good news of the kingdom breaking in within our community. And that seems to be the most powerful apologetic. Lesslie Newbigen said it best:

“I confess that I have come to feel the primary reality of which we have to take account in seeking for a Christian impact on public life is the Christian congregation. How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men wand women who believe it and live by it…Evangelistic campaigns, distribution of Bibles and Christian literature, conferences, and even books such as this one…are all secondary, and…they have power to accomplish their purpose only as they are rooted in and lead back to a believing community. Jesus…did not write a book but formed a community.”-Lesslie Newbigin