[Everyday Christians] three-dimensional LIFE

Priming the Pump

I’m VERY EXCITED to see the DCC family continue to press into the idea that our mission field is where ever the Lord has placed us.  We don’t need to get on a plane and fly or jump on a boat, rather we need to continue waking up to the reality that we are all living in a “foreign place”.  This world is not our home, we are citizens of a different Kingdom and according to God’s Word, we are already resident there, though we soujourn here.

As I’ve been meditating on this idea and spending time with the Lord it has occurred to me that the church spends a great deal of time, effort, and energy on making great sacrifices.  What I mean is that we are very focused on our worship, our upward expression and conversation with the Lord in His Presence.  This is as it should be and is a very important thing to stay focused on.  Yet, I think that if this is all that the Church is doing, it will become a hollow, empty edifice, a shallow shell, lacking the transformational influence that it ought to have.  Additionally, we spend a great deal of time, effort, and energy on our inward growth as believers (though I’d argue that the Church as a whole is far less focused on this than we should be).   Again, this is of vital importance and should never be neglected.  But, if we stop here, I must ask, what is the end goal?  At best, we will become a transformed people (progressively looking more and more like Jesus) spending time together in our little group, holding great meetings in which we seek the Presence of Lord and offer Him a glorious sacrifice of worship.  Sounds pretty good, right?  Yet, I think that we would be missing one very vital and integral piece of the Christ follower’s life…

“the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” – Luke 19.10 (NASB)

 Micah 6.

 “What does the Lord require of you but (1) to do justice, (2) to love kindness, and (3) to walk humbly with your God?”  – Micah 6.8 (NASB)

Three-Dimensional LIFE. 

If you look closely here, the life that the Lord is calling us into is a Three-Dimensional LIFE

UPWARD

…to walk humbly with your God…

Meaning that you are rightly related to the Lord, living in the light of His presence, receiving His LIFE through worship, prayer, reading His Word, and other devotional disciplines.  The original Hebrew is phrased a bit differently here, and is literally translated, “to humble yourself to walk with your God.”  This means that we are living in a position of humility toward God, with a proper understanding of who He is and who we are in relationship to Him.  It is an individual posture as much as it is a corporate posture of receiving the LIFE of Christ in our midst and having an exchange with Him in His Presence.

INWARD

…to love kindness…

Meaning that you are living in the acceptance of His grace – the  Hebrew word here is chesed which is translated loving kindness in some places, mercy in others, but it is very close in concept to the New Testament term “grace”.  Again, this is a matter of posture in which we are allowing His LIFE to transform us inwardly, whether as individuals or a family.

OUTWARD

…to do justice…

Meaning that we are walking as a living representation of Jesus to those around us.  This starts at the most intimate levels of relationship but continues to hold true in every encounter, with every person, every day.  Again, positionally, remembering that we are made to be conduits of the LIFE of Christ, that “rivers of Living Water should be flowing from our bellies”…remember one thing about rivers…when they flood the landscape, they change it.

Today’s big idea. 

Are you living Three-Dimensionally? How are you allowing the TRANSFORMATIONAL LIFE of Jesus to flow TO YOU, IN YOU, and THROUGH YOU (as a conduit) to effect the world around you?  Are you living as a missionary?  Are you focused on seeking and saving that which is lost?

Creating a Culture of Disengagment

Priming the Pump

I’ve been asking the Lord lately, “how do we ENGAGE more people at DCC?”  This, in fact, was one of my main prayer points of conversation with the Lord and Jamie as we were on our “Sabbath rest” (sounds a lot more spiritual than vacation, right?) this past week.  As is His usual MO in my life, through this conversation (with Him and others) my very foundation of what “engagement” means and looks like is being tested and reshaped.  I realized this week, that I’ve always looked at engagement in the church as showing up to the meetings, serving in this ministry or that one, and being a faithful financial contributor.  Those who are really ENGAGED are the ones who are there every time the doors are open

…*long pause while I’m hit with a ton of bricks*…

So, really, my idea of engagement has been what I’m beginning to call an “attractionist model”.  What I mean is that my idea of getting people to engage in the church boils down to getting them to come to a place where we have meetings (the more the better), and then getting them to participate in ways which keep those meetings vibrant, viable, and entertaining.  However, this was NEVER Jesus’ model.  If fact, he was constantly pulling people out of that model and setting them free to the reality of true and living communion with God and one another.

Consider the “church” of the time…

the synagogue.

Jesus constantly went into the synagogue (the gathering of believers, the ecclesia as it’s referred to in the NT – same word is used for the Christian Church), His purpose being to teach.  In fact, we read in Luke 4 (as well as other places) that this was actually His custom.  Yet, when He did so, we wasn’t entertaining people or giving them a teaching with which to feel better or learn to live better lives.  In fact, in the chapter that I just mentioned (Luke 4), Jesus says things so inflammatory and polarizing that the group (the ecclesia) actually gets up and runs Him out of the synagogue.  From there, they run Him out of the city to a high hill which they fully intended to throw Him from.  Jesus, nonchalantly shakes that off and walks through their midst unscathed never to darken Nazareth’s door again (at least not in that way).

a vehicle.

See, we talk about our mission, and how we’re reaching the “un-churched” or the “de-churched” or the “(fill in the blank)-churched”…whatever… It seems though that our mission is about getting people into the church and teaching or re-acclimating them to what it means to be CHURCHED.  In the first century, Jesus was the only one in the whole culture who was NON-CHURCHED, meaning that, while He saw the gathering for what it was and recognized it’s value, He knew that it wasn’t the end, but instead a vehicle to the end.  The gathering isn’t the destination…it’s A VEHICLE TO THE DESTINATION.  Jesus didn’t need to be assimilated to their culture, or speak their language, or be accepted into their midst because the whole thing was intended to draw people to Him, to His culture, to His language…to communion with Him…

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will take you to the synagogue so that you can hear some great music, have an opportunity for your children to play foosball, and hear a teaching that will help you cope with life and be a better person.’  Immediately…”

Oh…wait…sorry…wrong translation…

“Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him…”  – Matthew 4.18-19 (NASB)

Now listen, this is in no way meant to undermine the importance of the local gathering of believers.  Trust me, I believe that this is VITALLY important, for communion with Christ and discipleship.  What I feel that the Lord is doing in me is clearing out more of the religious cobwebs from my soul and showing me what the church really is and what’s it’s intended purpose is.

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst…Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  –Matthew 18.20, 28.19 (NASB)

some questions to consider.

Here are a few questions to ponder as you prepare your heart to gather with the Beloved tomorrow…

Is my local church a gathering and a community which facilitates opportunities for communion with the Living Christ and discipleship?

If not, what’s my part to play in helping it to become so?

Do I have a consumerist mentality toward church?

Or, am I focused on Jesus, on following Him and helping others to learn and grow as they follow Him?

Transactional or Relational [What is the Gospel]

Priming the Pump

‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’.” – John 17.3 NASB

“…‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’.” – John 10.7-10 NASB

Why did Jesus come?

When we ask this question, many answers come to mind…

to take away our sins.
to remove our shame.
to heal all of our diseases.
to conquer death.
so that we could go to heaven.

These answers are all true. But honestly, I think that they barely scratch the surface of the Gospel.  It seems to me that often times in our Western minds we tend to focus on the TRANSACTIONAL elements of the Gospel message.  But, is that all there is to the glorious life of Jesus Christ?

Or, another answer that I heard recently…

to redeem mankind.

Again, true.  But, to say that Jesus came to redeem us implies that He came to purchase us back FROM something which further implies that He was ultimately after restoring us TO something.

But what did He come to restore us to?

holiness?
honor?
health?
life?
eternity with Him?

Yes.  Absolutely.  All of the above.  But, there’s so much more…

I am the door through which you enter unto salvation.  Knowing God and knowing Me IS eternal life. – JESUS

Relational vs. Transactional

Here’s what I’m trying to say…

When we reduce the Gospel to a mere transaction we sell it tragically short of it’s majesty, beauty, and incomprehensible glory.

The Gospel is a story of broken relationship.  It is a story of furious longing and violent love in which our Father stopped at nothing to purchase back His sons who had foolishly sold themselves into bondage and chosen a life of sin and shame.  It is a story of restoration to the relationship for which we were eternally created.

Think about it, when we read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, we would miss out horribly if we stopped at the fact that the father gave his lost son a new ring, a new robe, and new sandals for his feet.  There’s so much more to the story.  There’s the fact that he was waiting and watching.  There’s the running.  The embrace.  The father profusely kissing his son who, very likely smelled like pig dung.  Then, there’s the party.  I can imagine the prodigal son sitting at the table, next to his father.  I can’t imagine that he was all that focused on the ring, the robe, and the sandals at that moment.  But, I imagine that he just sat in wonder and amazement at this father that still was willing to call him son and still wanted to be in relationship with him after where he’d been and all that he’d done.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrews used a word commonly translated in English “to know”.  It is the ancient word “Yada” and it means to know intimately.  It’s not an academic knowledge or a cerebral attainment to a truth.  It’s not the ability to rightly disseminate fact from fiction or the strict adherence to right doctrine.  In fact, it’s the word that Moses chose when he first wrote down the historical account of Adam and Eve.  In the NASB translation of Genesis 4.1, we read that Adam “had relations” with his wife Eve, and she conceived.  The KJV says, “Adam knew his wife…”.  While, the NIV says, “Adam made love to his wife…”.  The word here in the Hebrew text is the word “Yada“.  It is the word that is used to describe Moses relationship with God when the Scriptures say that Moses knew God, face-to-face, as a man knows his friend.  It is the word that Solomon chose to use in Proverbs 3 when he instructed us to acknowlege God in all of our ways.

This, my friends, is the concept that Jesus had in mind in John 17.3 when He said…

‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’.” – John 17.3 NASB

Today’s big idea.

Today, I encourage you to see Jesus as the door that He described Himself to be, to see that the Gospel is a story of restored relationship first.  There are transactional elements, yes.  But, when we make them paramount, we miss the main point.  We begin to believe that Jesus came to give us something, which essentially is true – but the “something” is Himself.  Let us rather seek His face rather than His hands.  For, it is in the light of His face that we behold the glory of the Gospel, and thereby reflect the reckless, extravagant love of the Father which transforms us, and re-images us to our eternal purpose in Christ – sons, stewards, and ambassadors.