Saturday, March 05, 2005

Living Threads No Steeple

A building with a steeple, stained glass windows, and pews is not a church. An organization and programs is not a church. God-followers devoted together as a community around Jesus’ love and the calling of delighting in Him, yielding to His rule, following His lead, and growing into healthy people who value and serve others whilst extending Christ’s love to people might be a reasonable first step towards defining church.

Believing in and following Christ is a wholly credible decision that brings life changing results and an intensity of purpose. In this context, a church is a community that has begun to realize God's great love, passion, and rich kindness towards mankind. Seeing this passion, love and kindness and knowing that God offers it to all who inhabit this “common pond” in which we live, we respond to God’s initiative by showing the good news of Jesus Christ and His message, character, love and life to individuals, our community, and the world.

In part, God's love is evident in the devotion and work of His people who, believing God, invest or have invested their lives in us and in earlier generations. Consequently, our lives and service, as we grow in practical matters of Christian community and worship, should offer evidence of a handiwork begun by God long before our collective existence as a local church.

This handiwork, which we can liken to a tapestry, precedes us and will pass to future generations. In fact, in history we see that God, through His plan, the work of His Spirit and His people, is continually weaving a tapestry of living threads. The origin of which precedes our generation and which will supersede, without interruption, every generation until Christ's return.

As a fellowship, a local church is part of this tapestry, which may be marred and sometimes unsightly; but it is a tapestry of God's choosing nonetheless. Each of us is among the living threads- a continuing part of the ongoing handiwork of God. Thus, sparked by the reality of His life and a motivating love for others, we enjoy a context for living and the hope of a legacy that will outlive us and glorify Christ now and throughout eternity.

Being threads in God’s handiwork, and aiming to demonstrate at least a glimpse of Christ to others leads us to grow away from self-centeredness. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” These are Christ’s words and His example. Can we love Christ and act out contempt towards others? Can we follow Him and turn a “blind eye” to the needs of our families, friends, community, and world? Can we show favoritism towards some and speak disparagingly toward others?

To be amongst the threads leads us, at least to some degree, to sacrifice. Yet, it also leads to reward for there is significance in aligning our lives with God’s plan and purpose. In the end, I am convinced that we will find that the price we pay to follow Jesus’ example and serve others is a price worth paying.

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