Monday, May 13, 2019

Making Connections

God combines situations, people, and His Word in unique ways in each of our lives--and part of the fun is, as a para-professional friend taught us, is "making connections." Each time small children would raise their hands eagerly, he would encourage them, "If you're making a connection right now, show me with your fingers (interlock fingers from each hand) and we'll talk about it later."

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/racial-ethnic-local-church-concerns


Here's my latest connection:
- The book of Ephesians was written to the corporate local church. It is lived out by individual as a group, but it's not about "me." It's about  how to glorify God with unity of purpose and direction as a local church body (living out the fullness of Christ here and now).

- Suffering is best done together. People in our world experience unspeakable acts of evil and wickedness. When one suffers, we all suffer. But to suffer alone does not 1) allow for healing, 2) bring closure, or 3) glorify God. Together we come alongside one another and bear each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2-5). Only Jesus was called to suffer alone. He then created a Body, the Church, to suffer together. He is in it with us.

- Baptism and the Lord's Supper (Jesus' ordinances) can only be done together. In order to be baptized, someone else has shared truth and instruction (Matthew 28:18-20). Discipleship cannot be accomplished alone. Baptism requires that someone else joins you in that body of water. And, it's done before an audience of witnesses. The Lord's Supper is a picture of shared suffering and celebration--all centered around our Lord, Jesus Christ. Baptist and the Lord's Supper require a local church.

If you are trying to obey the Word of God alone, you are not living in obedience to the heart of God. His Word is written to groups of people who live, worship, and fellowship as a unified entity (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, the introduction of the Pauline letters). That is a work of God's supernatural filling and equipping--all of us, with our own sin nature, desires, and experiences--submitting to one another as we submit to Christ.

If you are suffering alone, God instructs you to find others. Let them be Jesus to and with you; allow them to direct you to Jesus, His Word and character. God wants to bring grace and healing, but He uses Spirit-led individuals. That's how He works--through people.

If you have not embraced the beauty of unity in a local church, you are not walking in step with Jesus' final instructions to His people. One person alone does not reflect the image of God. God is a unified Person of individual Persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. He created Adam and Eve "in His image: male and female He created them.""There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Get on board, little children! There's room for many a more.

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