Yesterday was a very powerful worship service at Bethany North. Not sure if it was the early sugar rush from Halloween or just the sunshine breaking through the previous night’s rainstorm, but there was definitely a spirit of God moving through the congregation. After 6 worship services, things are definitely flowing with our little church. Each week we are slowly growing a little bit but more important, is that people are connecting with one another and growing in Jesus. We have families in our midst that are joyfully awaiting the birth of a child at any moment and other families fighting hard to keep their marriage together. This is the beautiful paradox of our Christian community….in times of both great joy and great sorrow we are called to come together and BE THE CHURCH. Watching it unfold on Sundays is humbling…I can’t believe I’m so lucky to be the leader for this flock.
Richard had a great teaching yesterday that we receive from Jesus living water IN ORDER TO be a blessing to the world around us. You can read Jesus’ teaching to the woman at the well here. Its not just about continually consuming more and more Jesus without ever pouring out. We receive..in order to empty ourself and serve the world. Before someone can serve, they must experience first hand the healing touch of Jesus. But the call of Christ is clear: once you are healed and set free, Jesus commands you to go and do the same. Go and serve the world.
I came across an intriguing article in which a former New Testament professor at Cambridge (C.H. Dodd) explains the roots of Christian ethics (i.e. Christian living) and the Christian church. If you are interested, you can click here. Hey lays down some interesting thoughts on his way to making a grander point that the Church’s teaching on ethics was consistent with other religions at that time. Through this premise he wishes to be able to pull out the succinctly Christian ideas versus all the other “religious” ideals. I’ll leave that for him to ponder…that is more scholarly work than I have time for this morning. 🙂 But, there are a couple of thoughts here that are relevant that I wanted to share.
Dodd writes, “It is easy enough to say that both aspects (community and service) are essential to Christianity and that both are important; even, perhaps, that both are of equal importance and that all that is required is a sound balance. That is true: but it does not go to the root of the matter. It is impossible to understand either the ethical content of Christianity or its religious content unless we can in some measure hold the two together and understand them in their true, organic relations within a whole, this calls for deeper soundings.”
Dodd discusses that once Christians came together in community there were immediately taught to change their life and re-orientate themselves towards meeting the needs of others. This was the essence of The Way- the Christian lifestyle. Dodd writes, “Those who responded to this appeal and placed themselves under the judgment and mercy of God as declared in Jesus Christ, became members of the community, the Church, within which the new life could be lived. These members were then instructed in the ethical principles and obligations of the Christian life. This course of instruction in morals, as distinct from the proclamation of the gospel, is covered by the term “‘teaching,” which in Greek is didaché.
Simply put- there is no divorce between Christian orthodoxy, what we believe, and Christian orthopraxy, what we do. This should encourage us and not frustrate us. So often the Christian lifestyle can feel far off and hard to connect to the average person. In reality, Jesus said it best here. Want to become a Christian? Love God, and then love others.