June 1, 2009
Father, that phone conversation with ___ really got me thinking.
One thing I'm thinking is how muchof the conversation out there about alternative expressions of church often tends to go into the "you, me, we three" level... yes, fellowship, loving, caring, discipling among believers is really important... but what about "go into all the world and preach the gospel"... never mind Jesus reaching out to the woman at th well... and forgiving (not condemning!) the woman caught in adultery... and blessing the little children... and telling stories like the prodigal son, and the wedding feast with all the "outcast" guests and all... and the "cup of cold water given in my name," and caring for the poor and visiting the prisoners and all...
The thing is, I'm thinking, even with "house churches like in the New Testament," and meeting often during the week and eating together and all... all of which are potentially really good things... what if a) you are still just hanging out with people you feel comfortable with and not feeling risk; b) you aren't really really into prayer and the Holy Spirit and totally believing in the promises and power of God; c) you aren't truly reaching out to show God's love to others (like Paul said, being all things to all people so as to reach some); d) you aren't truly bringing the gospel to people outside those who are already to some degree living a "church culture" kind of lifestyle (people whom you feel are likely to be "successfully reached" and integrated "successfully" into your group) ...and so on....
I keep feeling as though even some "simple church" people are still bound up in "church culture" to a degree where they are still thinking methods and systems, just maybe "simplified" ones... but still not the radical life Jesus led, the sacrifice He modeled (to the point of being totally willing and ready to lay one's life down for others)
Do we really believe what Jesus really taught and lived? I'm thinking it's time to read the gospels again and make a list of what that is... and ask myself if I am really living each (or even any?) of those things?!?!? What would it mean - in spiritual, material, practical, relational aspects of my life? I'm pretty sure that at best I'm only "scratching the surface!" (if even that much....)
Maybe all this "how to do - even be - church" isn't, after all, the real point. Maybe just obeying Jesus' commands - to believe in Jesus, to love God (Father), to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to love one another, to be baptized and join in the Lord's supper to remember Him - is really the point... and with it, all else necessary in our own lives and in the church will happen as we walk with Jesus in His Way.
It is getting coolish... I think I will go home, drop off my backpack, take a brisk walk... and then sit down and start reading and listing (and hopefully check marking at least a little...)
Jesus said His followers, filled with the Holy Spirit, would do the things He did... and even greater things. Do we really believe that? Are we really willing to go that far, be that radical? For example...
Mark 1:4 (re John's baptism): repentance for and confessing of sins (which came before walking the Jesus way... we wonder sometimes why so many people "pray the sinner's prayer" but then "fall away" ... could it be that they never went through real repentance?)
Mk 1:7 mightier than John (even mightier works than Jesus: by the power of the Holy Spirit)
Mk 1:8 baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit (and living in the Spirit non-stop...)
Mk 1:12 impelled by the Holy Spirit to do things (boy, "impelled" - that's a really strong word... Am I impelled by the Spirit?)
Mk 1:14 preaching the gospel of God (the Old Covenant fulfilled, the kingdom of God arrived, repent and believe...)
Mk 1:17 calling others to follow Jesus (Jesus called fishermen: uneducated, simple laboring men... and taught them so effectively that later, in the Spirit, the world was "turned upside down"... when he called (1:18) they left their livelihood, lifestyles, homes, family group... why? what was it that attracted them? Is there anything in me that attracts people to follow Jesus like that? There should be, if I'm really abiding in Him, and He in me....)
Mk 1:21-22 teaching with authority (do I? I should, if I really am truly a believer, a follower of Jesus, and have His Spirit in Me, and know and love the Father, in a relationship of abiding!)
Mk 1:27 commands the unclean spirits, and they know Him and obey Him and come out at His command (In Acts: Jesus I know, and Paul I know of, but who are you? ... Am I in such a relationship with God that even the unclean spirits recognize His authority and power through me? Remember... even greater things than Jesus did! Can I even begin to imagine that in my own life?)
Mk 1:31 take people by the hand, raise them up, and heal them (well, the apostles and others had faith to heal... even napkins touched by Paul had power for healing those who later touched them... when was the last time I was used by Father in healing?)
Mk 1:35 left the house before daybreak to go to a secluded place to pray (or at least to a prayer closet...)(rising before my body wants to... or even staying up all night alone to pray...)
Mk 1:37 everyone looking for Him (do people see Jesus in me so strongly that they come looking for me, to catch a glimpse of Him, to experience His love, to hear His Word? Note: He wasn't hanging out a shingle, or advertising, or anything... He kept trying to get away, and they kept looking for Him no matter how far away He went!)
Mk 1:38 went to the nearby towns, into their synagogues, preaching and casting out demons, which is what He came for... knowing that telling them the truth, and doing miracles which would make them jealous of His power and authority, would cause them to cast Him out, and to try to kill Him (and finally succeed in doing so!)... (when I see religiosity and other problems in churches, do I have the courage to tell the truth? Am I following Jesus so closely that His authority and power shine through? Am I willing to accept persecution... from other "believers" even...?)
Mk 1:40-45 healed a leper, showing compassion, stretching out His hand and touching Him (nobody touched lepers back then! It was considered not only a dangerous contagious disease, but such touching, according to the Law, meant that the person who touched the leper became unclean themselves, and had to go through rituals to become clean, and if they "caught" the leprosy could be banished, exiled from the community, outcast... Am I willing to truly be compassionate to our society's outcasts, to actually touch them, care for them, bring healing - physical, emotional, mental, spiritual - to them?) (Kind of like Mother Theresa...)
Mk 1:45 the leper told so many people about his healing that Jesus had to move His ministry into unpopulated countryside areas, because the crowds were too large to stay in the villages and cities! (Is there anything in my life, in my service for - with - my Savior and God, that draws people even remotely like that?)
Oh my goodness! That's only the 1st chapter of Mark! What's in the rest of Mark - and Matthew, Luke, and John - and Acts, as Jesus' disciples went out to fulfill His statement that they would do the things He did, and even do greater things...??? Looking at those things in just the first chapter of Mark - is there even one of them that I could put a big - or even small - check mark by, in regard to my own "Jesus walk" ???? I have to admit I am feeling pretty much a "failure" (at least, weak, disobedient, not walking like Jesus with Father in the Spirit, not doing His works with His authority, power, compassion...)
A few other things...
Mk 2:3-12 everyone was amazed at His authority, and praised God (Do people recognize God's authority seen in me? Enough to be amazed and praise God?)
Mk 2:14 Jesus called a tax collector to follow Him (a tax collector: a reject, traitor, big time sinner - do I call "those kind of people" to Jesus - and then spend the next three years living with them daily, hanging out with their sinner friends (v15-16),etc, to really disciple them and bring them to righteousness?)
Mk 3:1-6 Jesus was angry and grieved when He saw the hardness of heart of those "religious" people (am I grieved when I see hard hearts?)
Mk 3:13-19 Jesus went up to the mountain (away from the crowds) - (do I go away from the busyness of life and service, the popularity of the crowd, the needs around me, to spend long hours alone with Father?) -
Mk 3:20-27 So many people came to the house where He was staying, that He couldn't even eat. His own family came and tried to take Him away, thinking He'd lost His senses, while the scribes thought He was possessed! (Have I experienced this kind of opposition? Even from my family? Why? Or maybe to the point, why not?)
Mk 3:31-35 when His mother and brothers came to look for Him, He said: "Whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother." (Do I really recognize and accept as close family everyone who does God's will? How do I know? Do I ask Father?)