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Archive for April, 2012

Wardrobe Change

When groups get ready to go on trips, it is customary and right to gather round and pray for “traveling mercies.” Of course, the pastor (if present) is called upon to offer the prayer. I have been grateful to pray to God for saftey for groups of children, youth, and adults as they have journeyed to camps, retreates, and dinners. I am thankful about it because the prayers have been answered and the travels have been safe.

However, a few years ago, as I was praying before one of our mission journeys to the Rio Grande Valley, I circled with the group before we got on the bus/van/trucks/cars and felt led to pray this way: “Dear God, please keep us safe upon this mission trip, except when you want it to be dangerous.” It caused a change in my thinking (not my driving, we all want that to be safe) about the mission of the church. Sometimes, we want safety in the church. We preach safety in the church. “Just start following Jesus and everything will be alright,” we say. Except it hasn’t been that way for 2,000 years.

There is nothing more dangerous for the church than to follow Jesus. But there is no path safer than in the will of God.

I don’t know that everyone gets it (or wants to), but there is a sense of comfort that isn’t promised the church. Paul writes in Romans 13:14, “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  Putting on Jesus clothes isn’t going to make us comfortable in worldly garb. Yet, the church (aka Body of Christ) keeps trying on the latest fashion.  When we do, we lose precious moments to change the world.

Our quirky, out of step, appearance (figuratively) is our best way to show the New Community God designed in the church is the Best Community for the world. We may not have the best lightshow, latte, or loudspeakers, but we do have the best Love.  A not-so-old hymn We are Called to be God’s People (Thomas A. Jackson, Copyright 1975, Broadman Press) says it very well:

We are called to be God’s people, showing by our lives His grace,
one in heart and one in spirit, sign of hope for all the race.
Let us show how He has changed us, and remade us as His own,
let us share our life together as we shall around His throne.

We are called to be God’s servants, working in His world today;
taking His own task upon us, all His sacred words obey.
Let us rise, then, to His summons, dedicate to Him our all,
that we may be faithful servants, quick to answer now His call.

We are called to be God’s prophets, speaking for the truth and right,
standing firm for godly justice, bringing evil things to light.
Let us seek the courage needed, our high calling to fulfill,
that the world may know the blessing of the doing of God’s will.

Cry Justice…

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Body Parts

…in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. (Romans 12:5-6a)

My body is not a democracy. This morning there was no vote about getting out of bed. The will won, and all the parts came…together.

The apostle Paul uses in this text (and in 1Corinthians 12) the human body as a metaphor for the church. Because we are made holy by Jesus, we can put our individual bodies into the team (the church) that belongs to Jesus. And if the church is Jesus’ body, we can count on Him to lead well. We know that Jesus will not ask us to do with our body any thing He wouldn’t have done with His own.

Nevertheless, we are taught to value individuality by the world.  That’s okay, but carried too far we miss out on the joy of being in a team/group/church where valuable work occurs.  When Paul says we are part of the body, individual identity isn’t “mcnugget-ed” (see this video http://youtu.be/OTzLVIc-O5E) but valued.

Knowing your part in the church matters. Knowing your part, and what you bring to the group helps out every organization of which you are a part. Your family, your workplace, your volunteer group, and yes, your church, needs you to “bring it” when it comes to doing what you do best. When you do, you will find that you and your group/team/workplace/family/church are more:

  • Powerful – you leverage everyone’s strengths in the team to the fullest potential. You work smarter together.
  • Productive – you are part of a more succesful team, with delegated responsibilites and outcomes.
  • Pleasant – you are less stressed as a team because each can count on one another.
  • Positive – you can make it through challenges because you see the big picture and the value of one another to the team.
  • Peaceful – you can solve problems, not make them because you know and do your part.

More later…

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