February 12, 2009

Good Words

I have many old journals, but the one from the past year is my favorite. It holds lots and lots of conversations I have had with God about the huge leap of faith we've taken in the past few months. It started in a round about way summer before last at Glorieta where we got to hear David Platt speak the whole week. I was so challenged and God used that time to stir in me a desire to see the church become all she can be. Since you weren't there, here are the highlights:

(these are my notes so sorry if they don't make sense)

  • The church is where we see God's glory. It should be reflecting the glory of God. "Our relationships with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful. Christian community is the final apologetic."--Francis Schaeffer
  • The early church proclaimed the Word. We magnify God in the church by minimizing our voice and our culture and maximizing His voice (the Bible). We must always center on God-centered teaching and not man-centered teaching. The purpose of the Word is to recreate or transform us into the image of God. If we neglect the Word in our churches we rob people of the truth that is necessary for realizing God's purpose in their lives and we rob God of the glory due Him. The church is handicap apart from the Word.
  • The early church also embodied the Word. If we proclaim the Word and don't embody it, we miss the point. The early church was sharing in the body of Christ (I Cor 10:16), the service of Christ (2 Cor 8:4), the spirit of Christ (2 Cor 13:14), the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:5), the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ (Phil 3:10), the life of Christ (1 John 1:3, 6-7). They had an uncommon social concern, valuing people more than possessions and giving their resources without thought of return (Acts 2:42-47). They gathered for worship (unifying) and then scattered for witness (multiplying).
  • Our view of the church is often a circle of people holding hands and facing inward, but the correct view of the church is a circle of people holding hands and facing outward.
He also gave us a quote from Aristedes, defending Christians to the king (which one, I don't know):

"Now the Christians, O King, by going about and seeking, have found the truth. For they know and trust in God, the Maker of heaven and earth, who has no fellow. From him they received those commandments which they have engraved on their minds, and which they observe in the hope and expectation of the world to come.

They refuse to worship strange gods; and they go their way in all humility and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them. They love one another; the widow's needs are not ignored, and they rescue the orphan from the person who does him violence. He who has gives to him who has not, ungrudgingly and without boasting. When the Christians find a stranger, they bring him to their homes and rejoice over him as a true brother. They do not call brothers those who are bound by blood ties alone, but those who are brethren after the Spirit and in God.

When one of their poor passes away from the world, each provides for his burial according to his ability. If they hear of any of their number who are imprisoned or oppressed for the name of the Messiah, they all provide for his needs, and if it is possible to redeem him, they set him free.

If they find poverty in their midst, and they do not have spare food, they fast two or three days in order that the needy might be supplied with necessities. They observe scrupulously the commandments of their Messiah, living honestly and soberly as the Lord their God ordered them. Every mornings and every hour they praise and thank God for His goodness to them; and for their food and drink they offer thanksgiving. Such, O King, is the commandment given to the Christians, and such is their conduct."

May this be true of me and of our churches....