Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good Dialogue

(From our church's blog, emphasis mine)

The part I made bold is the part I wanted to pass on, but the broader context is helpful. I've been made to think lately about seeing the needs of your church and other similar thoughts. This discussion was helpful. I hope it will encourage you today, whatever church you may belong to...

A distinctive of the kingdom-mustard
By Keith GoadSeptember 24, 2007

Greg gave a very clear and accurate exposition of the mustard seed parable. The kingdom may look small now, but it will be awesome and finally victorious. One need not be anxious about the kingdom or the microcosm of the kingdom–the church–appearing small or insignificant. Some seem to be afraid of the smallness of the church and try to change aspects of the church’s culture in order to grow it so it looks successful by worldly standards.
I think a principle we should gather from the parable of the mustard seed is that kingdom growth is not always easily measurable. The kingdom of God expands as God desires and the grand appearance of its largeness, greatness, awesomeness will not arrive until Christ establishes his kingdom on earth. One’s church need not look great and mighty today to be an active agent in the kingdom. We do not need to change the culture of the church to make it great, we simply need to proclaim the Word so that members live like citizens of the kingdom. What if God is not growing you numerically now, he is simply building up the body so that it can be mature enough to care for new converts when he decides to bless you with them. How does one measure kingdom growth? I think Greg’s first sermon on the Kingdom Life gives a pretty good starting point. Is your church humble, loving, merciful, peaceful, etc? These changes take great pain and time.Third Avenue, we should not pat ourselves on the backs for being small because that is not the point. We should consider how well our life together reflects the kingdom. Are you committed to the growth of our little body by being committed to Christ and his kingdom? Are you more concerned with how committed people are to you rather than how you are committed to them?
RE: Living the Kingdom
By Greg GilbertSeptember 25, 2007

It would not be right to let this sentence languish in the middle of Keith’s post without being plucked out and put on display. It’s one of those questions that cuts to one’s heart and deserves to be meditated on at length:

“Are you more concerned about how committed people are to you, than about how committed you are to them?”

There’s a sermon for you to preach to yourself. I recognize that being and feeling loved are important needs for any human being. That’s how we’re made. But it’s worth noticing that the Bible’s command is to “love one another,” not “to be loved by one another.” The language is active, not passive.

That ought to set our priorities, and our expectations. It seems to me that the default position of too many Christians, when it comes to love, is passive rather than active. The switch is set on “intake” rather than “output,” meaning that people spend alot more time analyzing whether they feel cared for, than they do strategizing about how they can care for others. You can see the problem with that: If every switch in the church is set on “intake,” most everyone starts to feel like they’re “not being cared for.” But flip all those switches to “output”—change the priority from “being cared for” to “caring”—and see what happens: Love abounds.
I hope and pray that kind of active love is, or perhaps increasingly becomes, one of Third Avenue’s distinctives.


Travis Mitchell said...

VERY good quotes. I needed to hear that this afternoon. Thanks, James.

Oh, and look for me to post on the engagement as soon as I get pictures (probably tonight or tomorrow).

Love you!

sarahdodson said...

This is quite good, Jamie, and convicting, too. I really need to meditate more on it. Thanks for the food for thought. I truly desire to have an active love for the brethren.