Thriving in Community
Ours is a multi-layered community, replete with many hiding places. We can hide in our cars, behind our front doors. We can separate our public lives from our private ones. The real concern in this is, how much does this erode our sense of community?
Early Christians did not separate their public and private lives, according to Christian author, C. Kavin Rowe, in his e-book called Thriving Communities (Amazon.com). Rowe writes that “being Christian is by its very nature a public confession and identity.” In addition, ‘Christian’ was not first used as an internal self-designation. It was instead a term coined by outsiders, by those who could see a thriving community and needed a word with which to describe them.”
What’s most noteworthy is this label is given according to your actions and behavior witnessed by others. How wonderful is that? Consequently, the essence of community is working with and beside others as disciples of Christ to carry out his will.
As Pastor Steve pointed out, thriving in community can include everything from surfing to sleeping, from laughter to lightheartedness to love. The takeaway is, love creates community through relationships. And community is a gift from God.
Mentoring others in their faith is a way to become a greater disciple of Christ. On Sunday, June 18, 2017 Pastor Steve urged us all to be a guide to others. Do you see an example? Could others look toward YOU as the example?
As a part-time insurance agent, I get to know a wide variety of people, and I’ve learned through the years that people will always surprise you. Take, for example, just last week when I walked into the home of a family (father, mother, teenage son) to show them a policy just as mom was starting to prepare dinner. Fried chicken, green beans, homemade mac and cheese. The smells were wonderful as they wafted out of the kitchen. As I struck up conversation, I was surprised at what I learned. As the inviting smell of dinner got better, so did the reveal.
I learned that mom picked up ex-cons from the prison gate to halfway houses – their first encounter with someone from the outside to help them in their walk with Christ.
I learned the father mentored men who recently got out of prison, capturing their hearts and minds at that critical-juncture decision of forward or backward. He was a faith guide to them at a time when the cycle could break or continue. Then I found out he himself was an ex-con, and his mentoring was a legacy given from the disciple before him.
These are some amazing examples of faith mentoring. Look at your life and those around you and see where you might make a difference or grow right here at LJCC through joining a life group, finding a faith partner, or volunteering with children or youth.
For what I received, I passed on to you.
After four hundred years in Egypt, the Jews were freed from slavery by the mighty hand of God. But immediately they were sent into the desert to wander – follow – a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. Seven weeks after Passover, they camped below a mountain shrouded in clouds and smoke. Their leader went up the mountain, and then came back down holding God’s law, his face shining.
This strange, otherworldly story is the context of Pentecost. Like Steve was saying, Pentecost takes place fifty days after Jesus raised the cup and declared that His was the blood of the New Covenant. The day itself of Pentecost, when the Counselor came into our lives “as of the rushing of a mighty wind,” was the day the Jews there had gathered together to remember God giving Moses the Law.
The Passover becomes the crucifixion, and written code transforms into “new way of the Spirit.” In the most tangible way. On the very same date! We have a good God.
This story is a reminder God thinks that what He did on Pentecost is our new jumping-off point for who we are and how we do everything. Practically, here are things to keep in mind. When, as Steve said, our defenses are penetrated, remember that part of who is exposed is the indwelling Spirit of God. Acknowledge Him – acknowledging someone brings you up into relationship with them in that moment. This is who you are.
Make yourself responsive to His desire. The people on Pentecost spoke in tongues they did not know – we were reconciled in a way we hadn’t been since Babel – and Peter told the story of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures were fulfilled. Play your part in the fulfillment of all things, too. This is what you do.
The Spirit of God coming to be with us, now, is such good news. The early church celebrated their way through the fifty days from the Crucifixion to Pentecost. Let us walk in that same, growing “newness of life.”