Thursday, February 24, 2011

Developing True Community (Part 1)

My family and I just returned from the Community Class Family Retreat in Sedalia, CO, where we had a wonderful time. My wife and I lead the discussions and study time this weekend and our focus was on developing true community within the church. My intent is to post a mini-series of topics based on some of the discussions from our time at this retreat.

Part 1
Expectation VS Identity

Living up to Expectations:
What does it mean to live our lives based on expectations? The churchy answer is of course that we should not live our lives based on other's expectations, then we give a list of things the bible tells us that we ought to do. But I think this goes deeper. From childhood, we have expectations placed upon us by our family and friends. Our parents want us to get good grades, grow into responsible adults, make a profession of faith, go to college, get a good job; the list could go on. Our friends want us to fit in, to act cool, to spend time with them,  and so on. The fact is that we are pretty much conditioned from our birth on to live according to the expectations of others so that we can grow into "Good People".

Our spiritual lives are really no different. From spiritual birth, we have pastors, Sunday school teachers, and other Christians who all give us a list of things that we need to do (their expectations) in order to be "Good Christians". We are told that we need to cut our hair, remove our earrings(for men), dress a certain way, go to church, pray, read our bible, and once again the list is almost infinite. Just as in our physical life we find ourselves making decisions based on what we think will please our parents or friends, in our spiritual lives, we can spend all of our time and effort trying to do things that we are lead to believe please God.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I am not saying that these things are bad. Most of them are in fact taken right out of the pages of the Bible. What I am saying is that we often have the wrong idea about how these things fit into the Christian life.

Living out of Identity
How do we live out of our identity? Before we can discuss living out our identity, we need to look at what that identity is. In John 14 Jesus tells His disciples that they can know the Father, because Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Him. In Verse 20 Jesus then states that the disciples are in Him, and He was in them. Jesus is telling His disciples that those who believe in Him are in Him, just as He is in the Father. So what does is mean to be "in Christ", lets look at some verses that discuss this.

Romans 8:1 tells us that "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". In 1 Cor 1:30 Paul says "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption". Lastly, we see in 2 Cor 5:17 that "if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation". Notice that all of these verses are talking about the present state of things. There is now no condemnation. Christ became wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. We are a new creation. All of these verses talk of things that have already happened or are already true, not things that will be true in the future.

These things that are already true of the person who has believed Christ for everlasting life, therefore these things comprise our true identity in Christ. In Christ, we are a new creation, one that is without condemnation because Jesus Christ has redeemed and sanctified us, and has imparted to us His wisdom and righteousness. THIS IS WHO WE ARE, right here, right now, and living out of our identity is simply living as though these things are already true, not living as if we can make them true. We will develop this idea further in later verses, but we are talking about community, not individuals. This discussion is simply to give us an idea of what is already true on the individual level in each and every person who has believed in Christ for eternal life.

Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the Blogosphere! I have added your blog to my blogroll and to my Google Reader. I look forward to reading more, especially this idea of living "as though these things are already true, not living as if we can make them true."

    And I love your ministry. I gotta get me a bike and go for a ride with you some day.