Saturday, October 2, 2010

Share & Prayer Experience #3- God's Call to Be the Church

What does a church look like and how does it act when it becomes, “the church Christ intended”?

One, holy, universal, apostolic

Paul said: "There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all" (Eph. 4:4-5). Jesus had promised at the outset that "there would be one flock, one shepherd" (John 10:16).

It is not without significance that the Holy Spirit came down upon the Church at Pentecost at a time when "there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven" (Acts 2:5). It was to them that the Holy Spirit temporarily enabled the apostles to speak in the languages of all these various nations--a powerful sign that the Church was destined for all men everywhere, represented at that first Pentecost in Jerusalem by those of many nations who had come there from afar.

Christ founded the Church upon the apostles and in no other way: "Did I not choose you, the twelve?" he asked them (John 6:70). The apostles of all people understood perfectly well that they did not set themselves up in their own little community, as we sometimes today see "gospel churches" set up in store fronts or in the suburbs. The New Testament teaches, "One does not take the honor upon himself" (Heb. 5:4).

“The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Ephesians 1:22-23 The Message

Which is it today? Is the church peripheral to the world, or is the world peripheral to the church- and why?

Merriam Webster defines Peripheral: 1: of, relating to, involving, or forming a periphery or surface part
2 a : of, relating to, affecting, or being part of the peripheral nervous system b : of, relating to, or being blood in the systemic circulation 3 : of, relating to, or being the outer part of the field of vision 4 : AUXILIARY, SUPPLEMENTARY also : of or relating to computer peripherals

Seems to me that the scripture states that the church is not peripheral to the world but that the world is peripheral to the church- take the definitions above- relating to, involving, forming, part of the nervous system, blood, circulation, outer part of the field of vision…
I think Christ would want us to view it this way: The world must “relate to” the church, involve the church, form the church, consider the church part of the nervous system, as important as blood is to the body and it must always be in our field of vision… makes sense doesn’t it?
As the church we must always keep the world in our sights, the church should be our main function and the world should be our peripheral field of vision…
Ever heard the old saying- we have to be in this world, but we do not have to be of this world? God wants us to be like Him of course… living here, teaching here, helping here… but he wants our hearts and souls with Him (the church).

What must change for Walnut Hills Baptist Church to impact the culture and community it serves?

I think we need to bring the world in. What I mean is that we need to make ourselves visible to the community we live in, let people know we are here and the things that we are doing. Get out in our community – spread our Christian culture- and get right in the direct line of sight to our community around us. We should stop being content to be in our communities peripheral vision and stop being content to keep our community in our peripheral vision. We need to come together- and however we need to do that maintaining our Christian culture, I think we should do it!
(this would need to be evolved more and broken down into what we should be doing in our community, how we get involved and get our community involved with us etc…)

How Christ lived and served God during his earthly ministry:

He is the only man to have lived a perfect, sinless life, though He was tempted to sin in every way. Jesus’ earthly ministry was centered on pleasing God the Father and doing His will. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus selflessly proclaimed the love of the Father for fallen humanity and demonstrated that love by healing the sick, delivering those oppressed by demons, and by performing various other good works, natural and supernatural.

Romans 15:8 neatly summarizes the scope and purpose of Christ's earthly ministry: "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." These include the promise to make Abraham's family a blessing to all families of the earth (Genesis 12:3), the promise to multiply his seed to innumerable proportions (genesis 13:16), and the promise to give unto him the land of Palestine (Genesis 13:14,1).

Everything Christ did and taught while He walked this earth was designed to bring the people of Israel back into line with these great promises, so that they in turn could be the blessing to the rest of the earth. But the Israelites of that generation would not submit to Christ's authority. In early Acts, Peter once more called Israel to repentance, reminding them: Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham And in thy seed shall all the kindred's of the earth be blessed" (Acts 3:25). But once again, Israel's leaders rejected God's offer.

Mark 1:14-15 records, "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."

Matthew 9:35 says, "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues (the Jews' places of worship), and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people." In Matthew 15:21-28, Jesus Christ was approached by a Canaanite woman, a Gentile, whose daughter was vexed with a devil.

How does Christ’s example inform your understanding of what it means to become a missional church?

I think that we have to step outside our comfort zones a lot of times. I think we have to live by example, set examples and recognize examples set by others to continue to learn and experience for ourselves. I think we have to know the difference between God’s intentions and our own. I think our church already does a lot of “out of country” mission work, but not so much here in our own community. I’m not sure we know as a church where our heart lays in terms of mission work- my question would be “what does our church as a whole congregation have a heart for? What is that one mission that would bring our entire church together in honor of Christ and in representation of His life and ministry on earth?”

What must happen for a congregation to be the presence of Christ to those God is calling and gifting to serve?

The congregation will have to take it’s cue from what we know about Christ and his life and ministry. We have to support our fellow brethren in our service and our gifts that God bestows on us. We have to recognize how we can each serve and how we can all come together to be the church that God would have us to be. Especially in our own community. We have to work together, play together, rejoice and even suffer together…

How do you know when it is happening?

I think we will know when God is speaking to us. I think He is speaking to each of us now through this prayer time, preparing us, guiding us, teaching us to pay attention to Him and to recognize Him right now.

When were you the presence of Christ to someone in need?

I really feel like I am the presence of Christ in my marriage at times and that Zach is the presence of Christ in my marriage at other times. Sometimes we are at the same time and sometimes we are at different times in order to be there for the other one…

What was it like?

It is like a strength that I need when I think I don’t have the strength, and I hope that it what is it like for Zach as well… we hold one another up- but God is the common ground, and we both know that so we feel as though God leads our marriage and shows us the path to take with one another. I think God called us together for His purpose and it is our responsibility to figure out what that purpose is.

How did it make you feel?

I feel loved, safe, secure. I feel a responsibility to God and to Zach to stay focused in this life on things that are pleasing to God for Zach and I. That means in our personal lives, in our family lives and in our church family lives as well as our community lives…

How were you changed?

I am changed constantly as I grow and learn and spend more time with Zach and in study of scripture. I hope I continue to always feel changed! With God as the center, Zach and I are understanding, compassionate, caring, loving, and patient with one another. Even with each of our faults…

What was required of you to be the presence of Christ?

Patience, knowledge, strength, wisdom, a listening heart, a compassionate understanding…

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