Facebook, Myspace, online church. All ways to connect with people. And each of them claim to be a virtual “community.“ But is that really “Community” like the Bible talks about? I don’t think it can happen only through online mediums despite our best attempts and despite emerging ministries designed to do just that by some large churches that I admire.
COMMUNITY is a massive buzzword these days. So much so that it has almost lost its meaning. Community is a group of people to whom you give yourself. That means that they really know you and you really know them. Any group of people who can give and receive like that, in love and submission, is a true community. Can that be done only by connecting with people online? Again, I don’t think so. Online “communities” can supplement REAL community but not replace it.
Being in community entails being consistently in tactile, real-world situations where we can learn about each other’s strengths and weaknesses while having genuine fun. The Bible is full of community and stories of people being dependent on each other, including Jesus Himself. For me, the place that most consistently does this is the local church, and specifically a particular small group that I’m a part of. It’s in this particular small group that I am most known. It’s where ALL of us can share victories and defeats together.
Where do you truly find community?
I believe God has a wonderful plan for my life, but what does that mean? Is there only one specific plan or thing God wants me to do with my life? One specific occupation? One specific person to marry? One specific altruistic cause to pursue? Together, these things would comprise my “purpose” and “wonderful plan.”
But let’s not get held into bondage by such questions. We are not in bondage to figure out the one thing that God wants us to do.
If there is something you want to do and it doesn’t break any of God’s clear instructions in the Bible and will ultimately give you freedom in Christ, then just do it. We Jesus followers love to overspiritualize common life decisions and make everything very difficult. If we are parallyzed by such decisions than we become so focused on ourselves that we forget the big picture. God does have a plan.
We’re beginning a new emphasis at FCC called “Advent Conspiracy.” The basic idea is that we want to take back the story of the Savior’s birth as we fight against the spirit of consumerism that has stolen the soul of Christmas. We want to substitute consumption with compassion by practicing 4 simple, but powerful, countercultural concepts – worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. This video explains more about where we’re headed.
Here’s what we did:
Shout for Joy
Angels We Have Heard on High
God of this City
Message: Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully
From the Inside Out (communion)
Your Love is Better than Life
How do we “manage stress” when we’re under pressure? Another favorite passage of mine is from Philippians 4. Read it for yourself:
Philippians 4:4-94Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
1) Define Perspective
2) Be gentle
3) Trust God
4) Live ethically
We live in a culture that believes the opposite of judgment is tolerance. And tolerance is falsely defined as accepting without opinion whatever choices others make. But Jesus told us that the alternative to judgment is not tolerance; it’s mercy. The alternative to being judgmental is not ignoring other people’s faults; it’s showing them that Jesus has forgiven ALL our faults.
Hypocrites are more concerned about appearance–washing the outside of the cup–than the reality of what’s on the inside.
The word “hypocrisy” is derived from the Greek word for actors on the stage who spoke from behind masks held in front of their faces. Hypocrisy is all about hiding behind a mask, acting on a stage for others.
Live your life to impress God, not others.