Hello Blog World! To any that may find themselves reading this, I hope you are well and smiling :). I have a blog for you today, a bit out of the ordinary. It is something that I have been reading in the Bible and really thinking about for myself. I hope that it speaks to you, but to be perfectly honest, my husband is making me do it. You see, it pushes on my "uncomfortable button" a bit too much for my personal taste, but I am blessed enough to have married a man who loves me, encourages me beyond belief, and thinks, even when I don't, what I have to say is important and just might encourage people. He's been bugging me all week to do this and so here it is...
Earlier in the week I was reading the first few chapters of Acts and felt God really impress on my heart some verses and thoughts. So I just did what I normally do and journal them out. I had Brandon read what I had written (which I never do!) and he has encouraged me to put it on this blog for all the world to read... yikes!!! So I'm going to let you read my journal! Figuratively, of course! :) This is just an excerpt, straight from the pages of the sacred vault of my heart... no editing or rewriting, just as I wrote it that morning. I hope you get something out of it as it is something that I am very passionate about. The Church. More precisely, His Church. But, I'll just let you read it....
"Some thoughts I want to write down.
Acts 2:44-45, ' Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.'
Acts 4:32, 34, ' Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold.'
Acts 2:46, ' So continuing daily one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.'
- beginning of Acts tell of the beginning of the church in it's purest state. These were the relational characteristics of it
1. generosity towards each other
2. one accord - unity at the highest level (heart and soul)
4. breaking bread daily - fellowship daily
5. looked out for each other's needs and met them
7. simplicity of heart*
Anyway, just a challenge of how are we, as The Church, living by this? Are we in this deep knitted of a community? Do we live generously towards each other or tight-fisted? Do we live with a common goal and purpose - do we see ourselves as a company of like-minded believers joined together to make the name of Jesus famous? Or do we merely just "go to church"? Our hearts need to be knitted together w/a single-minded/focused goal - making Jesus famous.
Fellowship - we need to not just meet each other's needs and live generously w/each other, but we need fellowship. Intertwine our lives w/one another. Live our lives together. People should be involved in our lives and we should be involved in theirs. People should regularly be in our homes and we should regularly be in theirs.
*Through fellowship/relationship we will learn what their needs are and can meet them.
Simplicity of heart - no ulterior motives; pure --> we need the Holy Spirit and Christ's love to work in us toward this end.
I am sure the early church was messy but what a beautiful picture we get of true community and love for each other born out of a love for serving and knowing Jesus.
What a challenge to us in the world we live in this day. Where walls are our closest companions, not people. Where busyness is our mode of operation.
John 13:35, ' By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.'
Pretty much says it all. This is the Church that Jesus' desires. A Church that loves each other like He loves. A Church that is knit together in pureness of heart (simplicity), w/one purpose and passion. A Church that intertwines our lives w/each others.
Do I do this? Is this how I see the Church? I said on Sunday for Jesus to move in my heart in such a way that I loved His Church like He did and could see her like He did. That I would be captured by what captured Him so much that He was willing to die for her. May I be willing to lay down my life in service to her, seeing her as Christ sees her, loving her as Christ loves her. This love starts with me."
I began to make a mental checklist of how the church is described by others (non believers and believers alike), and I came up with many things, Love being low on the list. Hypocritical, divisive, judgmental, pious, legalistic, elitist, money hungry, boring, funless (even a word??), among others. Now I realize these are generalities and there are many times we cannot help one's perceptions of us, no matter what we do. But if these are the common words to describe us then we have a problem.
Jesus, himself, said we are to be known by our love for each other, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Not the needy and poor "out there" (though that is well and right), but for those that are right next to us. Are people so blown away by how much we love each other within the church that they are drawn and compelled to be a part of it. Or are they turned away by how much we accuse and argue over trivial matters? How much we distance and pretend with each other? Or how "perfect" we are, all sinless and holy?
What are we known for? Love for the world, but despising each other? Quick to judge, whisper, and accuse but slow to embrace? Come on people, we are in this together! We have a mission - making Jesus famous on this earth and He said we will do that by our love for each other. That is how they'll know! It starts here, at Home, between you and me.
I'll end with this... if Jesus was so captured by a Bride of such great beauty that He was willing to leave the glory of heaven and give His very life for her, then maybe we should take note. Maybe there is something more to her. Maybe we should realize that while He died for us, the individual, He also died for us, the complete, whole picture of His glorious, beautiful, breath taking, heart capturing, head over heels silly in love with Bride. We are one in the same. I am her, the individual. And I am her, the corporate. And I better, better treat her right.
So that is all, just some thoughts that have been churning through my heart. I hope that maybe you get something out of this and we can all allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts so that, once again, we can be known on this earth by our love for one another. And in turn, Jesus' Bride will shine brighter and brighter with the glorious reflection of Him to the rest of the world, so that they may come and take their place within our Home.
Love to All. I pray this day you will know how amazingly special you are to the God of the universe who is intimately acquainted with you and STILL thinks the world of you!