a trip through time & what it’s all about

 

When God our Father’s people were little children, he spelled things out in great detail (“do this” and “don’t do that”), for children need boundaries. We call this set of rules the Old Testament.

As time progressed and our Father’s people became teens, he spent even more personal time with them, but as he did so, he didn’t so much give them rules as he told them stories and modeled the way to live. He mentored his children. And so we have what we call The Gospels.

Today, God’s children live in “adult time.” In light of our raising, we now grasp the big picture God has painted for us as to how to live. We seek to walk in wisdom as we think back often as to what Dad would have said or done in any given situation. We call this Christian living in the age of the Spirit.

Consequently, we know any effort to live without a sense of our raising will leave us direction-less. Likewise, we understand any attempt to make Christian living all about rule-keeping is a giant step back toward immaturity. Our task is to live a life of godly love. That is, a life of grace expressing itself through faith and a life of faith with great grace.

links: this went thru my mind

 

This post consists of a short list of links to articles and posts that I’ve come across of late that I’ve found worthy of thought. My notice of them here – unless otherwise noted – should never be construed as my endorsement of, or agreement with, everything these posts contain. However, I do believe these articles discuss matters in such a way that our awareness can be developed and our reflection stimulated. Enjoy!

Biodiversity, extinction & ecology: Oh, the Destruction We Can Wreak [required reading]

“… on average one species on earth goes extinct every eight hours.”

Culture & parenting: Global Parenting Habits That Haven’t Caught On In the U.S.

“Some might make American parents cringe, but others sure could use a close study. Vietnamese mothers, for instance, get their kids out of diapers by 9 months. Read on for a sampling of parenting lessons from around the world.”

Depression, hope & Robin Williams: Some Need Hope

“…  Robin took his own life, after suffering with depression for some time. There are others around us, wearing a mask of smiles, covered by a mantle of success, that are suffering on the inside. Some of them sit down the pew from us at church. Not all will take their lives. But many will want to. May God grant us eyes to see these people.”

Generations & Generation Z: Coming Soon to a Workplace Near You: Generation Z

“Following the most common definition of Gen Zers as being born after 1996 means they’re still in school, for the most part, but they’ll be arriving as part-time workers and interns before we know it, and it’s not too soon to start building some insight. … Even more than the Millennials, Gen Zers are … digital natives who have grown up in a world of technology. … Partly because of technology, Gen Zers are born multitaskers. … they’re comfortable in global diversity. … Gen Z is socially and environmentally aware. … Finally, they’re entrepreneurial and flexible. … They’re looking for innovation and independence.”

God’s will: God’s Will in Calvinism and Arminianism

“Whenever someone simply tosses out Ephesians 1:11 as “proof” of their theology of God’s sovereignty I know what I’m dealing with—an immature, unreflective, simple-minded Christian who does not yet understand that they are interpreting Ephesians 1:11 and that there are other interpretations of it.”

Introspection, journaling, narcissism & self-absorption: Introspective or Narcissistic?

“The question is: How do you succeed in being introspective without being self-absorbed? … The problem is that the mind is vastly deep, complex and variable.”

7=1

 

Stop, drop, and make a list. Make a list of every matter over which you know Christians and churches have separated fellowship over. You have sixty seconds.

Go!

I know. You need more time. More like sixty minutes, right? And with some research, you could actually, all too easily, occupy yourself for sixty hours.

Seriously. Sadly.

So, dare to imagine something radically different. Dare to dream something ancient and wonderful. Dare to go where God’s Spirit would take you.

Imagine all Christians everywhere agreeing and uniting on nothing but what the Holy Spirit of God has explicitly defined in Scripture – through the words of the apostle Paul, no less – as the unity we Christians experience, enjoy, and are to maintain.

That’s it. Read that sentence again.

Do you know where you could find such a summation of unity? Can you turn to the text that succinctly describes that which should occupy our maintenance efforts as Christians? If you know where the text is found, could you name those specific matters … because you’re so all about them already … without peeking first? Is this text one of those that is so very dear to you that you have it memorized, virtually upside down and backwards?

You should! Ephesians 4.4-6 is the text and the itemized list consists of a seven matters. That’s right: seven. Not seven thousand, seven hundred, or even seventy. Seven.

Now, again: can you name the seven? Imagine all Christians everywhere, all who seek to live after Christ, declaring and emphasizing, living and serving, with only the following squarely in view through the front windshield.

One body. One Spirit. One hope. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. One God and Father of all.

Or, precisely as the Spirit who is holy put it to us:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4.4-6 NRSV)

Now imagine every Christian with such a united vision and laser-like focus on these seven matters that they could come to see the utter and complete simplicity of Christian faith: that the only thing that matters is united faith expressing itself through love on the basis of such (cf. Gal. 5.6). Imagine what could be if Christians everywhere lovingly left everything else to individual conscience. Imagine throwing off everything that has split and divided, fractured and finished off Christians through the ages and hanging onto these few, crucial things that matter.

Can you see the walls coming down? Not only the walls that separate those who believe, but the walls that block out those who would come to believe?

Can you imagine the potency of such a strong witness to Christ and his power? Can you imagine how many would come to proclaim: “Surely God is among you!”? Imagine! What a wonderful Christian world this would be!

Now just do this one thing. Don’t leave it to your imagination. Get after it!

I assure you, should you come to this way of thinking and living a life of faith with love, you will not be alone.

And who knows just what God might do with such a united people?

I hope someday you’ll join us and the world can live as one in Christ.

LIFE group guide: the unity of the Spirit – what exactly are we to maintain? (2)

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Aug. 10) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To consider the heart of our role in maintaining the unity we experience in Christ Jesus.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. (John 12.32 NIV)

• God’s kingdom is … about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14.17 CEB)

• … I want to make it clear to you that … no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12.3 CEB)

• Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you … I passed on to you what was most important … Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. (1 Corinthians 15.1-2a,3-4 NLT)

• The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5.6b NIV)

• … lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4.1b-6 NRSV)

• Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share, I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain intruders have stolen in among you … who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 3-4 NRSV)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Share one of the most meaningful expressions of family or church unity you’ve experienced.

2. If we Christians strongly emphasized more of what we agree on, what might happen?

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Carefully read Eph. 1.9-23. What links do you see between it and the seven ones of Eph. 4.4-6?

2. Read Eph. 2.8-10. How is unity crucial to the living out of our purpose in Christ (vs. 10)?

3. Study Jude 3-4. What relation does “the salvation we share” share with “the faith?” To Jude, what specific sort of matter constituted a deviation from “the faith,” “the salvation we share?”

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. If Christians are all “one body” in Christ then how is it division among Christians even exists?

2. Which do disciples tend to agree on more readily, completely: “doctrine” or “morality?” Why?

3. Only by the Spirit can a person say “Jesus is Lord.” Many sincerely worship Christ and seek to live after him, yet differ on a number of matters and levels. What does this say to you?

4. “You ‘Church of Christ people’ act like you’re the only ones going to heaven.” Response?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Continually seek to first see things through the eyes of others; to appreciate differing views.