One in Christ

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:12–13

We have our annual congregational meeting tonight, a time to give thanks to God for His grace that has brought us thus far, and a time to recommit ourselves as a church to trusting in that same grace to lead us forward in ministry together.  

As I was preparing for my Pastor’s report for the meeting, I came upon my notes from when I read through Jerry Bridges’ book, True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia.  Bridges does a fantastic job of defining koinonia (a Greek word that is best translated as “fellowship”) to mean more than just the social activities of the church, but has more to do with the idea of community in Christ.

Bridges writes:

It is not the fact that we are united in common goals or purposes that makes us a community. Rather, it is the fact that we share a common life in Christ. There are many organizations, both secular and Christian, whose members work together to pursue common goals. Some of these groups may call themselves communities. But biblical community goes much deeper than sharing common goals, though it ultimately involves that. Biblical community is first of all the sharing of a common life in Christ. It is when we grasp this truth that we are in a position to begin to understand true community.

We share the life of Christ together as the Church.  It is wonderful to have a place that cares for you, that shares in the joys and sorrows of your life; a place where everyone knows your name.

But the Church, the true fellowship of Christ, must go deeper. The Church is one, not because of a shared interest in music, or because of the local projects and activities it offers. The Church is one because it is in Christ, and Christ must be at the center of our fellowship, of our life together. 

Bridges goes on to write:

How different is our present-day concept of fellowship? Take those typical times of “coffee fellowship.” We discuss everything else except the Scriptures. We talk about our jobs, our studies, our favorite sports teams, the weather — almost anything except what God is teaching us from His Word and through His workings in our lives. If we are to regain the New Testament concept of fellowship within the community, we must learn to get beyond the temporal issues of the day and begin to share with each other on a level that will enhance our spiritual relationships with one another and with God.

I am thankful to be able to serve Christ’s Church, and to serve a Church that loves to share in one another’s lives. Let’s be intentional about that this year. As we meet for fellowship, get caught up on the kids and their lives, but also be sure to ask about what the Lord has been teaching them as they’ve been reading Scripture this week, or what they learned from the sermon that morning.  Encourage one another to come to Bible Study or Sunday School, find out how you can be praying for one another.  Let us celebrate the blessing of being one in Christ, and may we grow in our shared life together.

Grace and peace!

Excerpts from: Bridges, Jerry. True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia . Navpress. Kindle Edition. 

Summer Reading List

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
(Proverbs 4:7)

With the summer almost halfway completed, I wanted to share my Summer Reading List before it was too late.  I pass these titles along to you for your consideration and edification.  Enjoy!

True Community, Jerry Bridges – While I have already read this book, I am re-reading as I prepare the summer sermons series based on this theme of building authentic community as the Church in Jesus Christ.  Bridges presents some very deep theological foundations and explanations of what it means to be the Church and what our fellowship ought to be, but in such a way as to not bog the reader down or shoot over our heads.  I highly recommend this book, and there are six copies left in the Church Narthex.

God in the Whirlwind, David Wells – This is decidedly a more substantive theological work than True Community, but it is still very approachable and has much to say for today’s Church.  Wells argues that the church has lost sight of the character of God, his Holy-Love.  We hear a lot about God’s love but not much about his Holiness. Well’s writes,  “We have become inclined to think of God as our Therapist. It is comfort, healing, and inspiration that we want most deeply, so that is what we seek from Him. That too, is what we want from our church experience. We want it to be comforting, uplifting, inspiring, and easy on the mind. We do not want it to be something that requires effort or concentration. We want God to be accepting and nonjudgmental.”  In a masterful, yet compassionate and encouraging tone, Wells calls the church to engage our culture with the Holy-Love of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ; the gospel which should shape and influence our view of the world, ourselves, our worship, and our service.

Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller – I have always enjoyed Keller’s writing, and this book doesn’t let me down.  I read this book as sort of a modern-day Christian response to the soul searching of Ecclesiastes.  Before Christ, and apart from Him, the author of Ecclesiastes, and those who pursue their treasures in the world today, all work, all success can seem empty and meaningless – there’s always more to do, always someone better to come along.  With great pastoral care, Keller shows readers that biblical wisdom is immensely relevant to our questions about our work. In fact, the Christian view of work – that we work to serve others, not ourselves – can provide the foundation of a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship—not just of self-interest.

Crazy Busy, Kevin DeYoung – This book jumped into my hands and screamed, “I was written for YOU!”  Now, if I could just find the time to read it.  If your life is anything like mine, you have a packed calendar, there are often things that done get done, or don’t get done well, and the most important things (like your family), often get the least amount of attention.  I’ve only just started  with this book, but already I’ve begun to see how my “busyness” is often a cover for my insecurity, and a way to feed my sinful pride.  Since I’m still early in the book, I’ll share this review from Publishers Weekly:

DeYoung offers a refreshing (and refreshingly short) take on the plague of modern American life: the too-long to-do list and the overscheduled calendar that produce the frazzled response ‘busy’ to the innocent question ‘How are you?’ DeYoung doesn’t offer time management but rather theology. God wants you to use your talents, but God is not nearly as big on the idolatry of self-importance that often motivates over-commitment.  DeYoung is clever (‘If Jesus were alive today, he’d get more emails than any of us.’), his analysis is well-organized, and he brings theological thinking without moralizing. If you are someone who checks your email before going to bed and as soon as you wake up, DeYoung has your number, and this is your book.”

One With Christ, Marcus Peter Johnson – Wanting to go deep with a Theology book this summer, I’ve selected this treatise from Dr. Johnson, assistant professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute.  From the cover of the book there is this summary, “Despite our love for the Bible, emphasis on the cross, and passion for evangelism, many evangelicals ironically neglect that which is central to the gospel.  In our preaching, teaching, and witnessing, we often separate salvation from the Savior.  Looking to the Scriptures and to church history, Marcus Johnson reveals the true riches of our salvation by reintroducing us to the foundation of our redemption – our mysterious union with the living Christ.”

Memoir and Remains of R.M. M’Cheyne, Andrew A. Bonar –Having read Metaxas’ biography on Bonhoeffer and Marsden’s on Edwards, I thought I’d turn this summer to the story of Robert Murray M’Cheyne.  M’Cheyne was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and missionary in the early 19th century who died at the young age of 29.  A preacher, pastor, poet, he was also a man of deep piety and prayer. His biography tells the story of his brief life, and includes all of his collected writings, letters, and poems.

SDG