Posts Tagged Body of Christ

Response to Marc5Solas on Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church—5. Community

5. Community

This may be perhaps THE reason that Marc brings up that gives me the most pause. I think he is right to warn about the false security that community can bring. It is very easy to feel a part of anything when you are a part of the crowd. It feels good to be a part of something – this is especially so among young people, but also true among the other generations too. Sometimes it feels good to be a part of a small community, and sometimes it feels good to be a part of a larger community.

However, I do push back a little bit on Marc’s criticism of community, because community is obviously something that is going to happen in a local church context. Is he suggesting that we avoid community altogether? If not, what limits should we put on community so that people do not mistake the good feeling that accompanies community with sincere faith and discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ? He doesn’t say enough here. Community is GOING to happen.

We are relational beings – all of us – to some degree or another. In fact, I would argue biblically that we are hard-wired by God to worship him in community. How much time does the Scripture labor over the establishment, life, theology, and future of the BODY of Christ? Or even the NATION of Israel? There are endless places in Scripture to which I could turn to make my point. I’ll choose three.

  1. The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20; Deut. 5) were given to Moses by God to teach the PEOPLE of Israel how to be a community of individuals who worship YHWH in purity and holiness as well as how to live with one another in purity and holiness.
  2. Ephesians 2:11-22 is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture (btw, who was this letter written to . . . oh yeah, a COMMUNITY of Christians). The whole context of the passage is community focused, particularly how Jesus Christ through his death has become the peace between diverse – and sometimes even hostile – members of a single community. The passage even goes on to say that the apostles, prophets, the Lord Jesus as the Cornerstone, and the rest of the Body of Christ is being built up into one temple in which the Lord makes his dwelling.
  3. Lastly, turn to end of the Story to Revelation 5:9-10, where a community is singing about the community that the Lamb has ransomed for God “from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a KINGDOM and PRIESTS to our God and THEY shall reign on the earth.” Again, I could share more, but I think that it is clear that throughout the biblical narrative, God has engaged himself in a great deal to make a PEOPLE for himself.

I have not yet even mentioned the notion of community that flows from the Godhead itself as the Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy perfect communion with one another as the one God.

Now that I have thrown Marc under the bus a bit, I’ll stop and embrace his warning because his warning – though not well-rounded per se – is still legitimate. I often wonder, “How many of our students come to weekly meetings because their friends are there?” “If so and so stopped coming or left the faith, would he or she leave too?” “Are they here because they know that the Lord Jesus has called them into the Body of Christ, to a commitment to this local church, and because the Holy Spirit is yearning in them to serve, work, and worship with the community of saints at Scofield?” These are fair questions, because a person can find a “feeling” of community anywhere – in your college dorm, as you sharpen your focus and truly become part of a degree program with other students, in a frat or sorority, on a sports team, through fitness, at a bar or restaurant, at a workplace, or through any number of common interests that you may end up sharing with others as you leave the student ministry of Scofield. Students – don’t mistake the common, human need for community with other humans for the unique, sanctified, reborn community in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that the former is evil; I’m just saying that it is NOT the latter. Word.

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Response to Marc5Solas on Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church—5. Community

5. Community

This may be perhaps THE reason that Marc brings up that gives me the most pause. I think he is right to warn about the false security that community can bring. It is very easy to feel a part of anything when you are a part of the crowd. It feels good to be a part of something – this is especially so among young people, but also true among the other generations too. Sometimes it feels good to be a part of a small community, and sometimes it feels good to be a part of a larger community.

However, I do push back a little bit on Marc’s criticism of community, because community is obviously something that is going to happen in a local church context. Is he suggesting that we avoid community altogether? If not, what limits should we put on community so that people do not mistake the good feeling that accompanies community with sincere faith and discipleship in the gospel of Jesus Christ? He doesn’t say enough here. Community is GOING to happen.

We are relational beings – all of us – to some degree or another. In fact, I would argue biblically that we are hard-wired by God to worship him in community. How much time does the Scripture labor over the establishment, life, theology, and future of the BODY of Christ? Or even the NATION of Israel? There are endless places in Scripture to which I could turn to make my point. I’ll choose three.

  1. The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20; Deut. 5) were given to Moses by God to teach the PEOPLE of Israel how to be a community of individuals who worship YHWH in purity and holiness as well as how to live with one another in purity and holiness.
  2. Ephesians 2:11-22 is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture (btw, who was this letter written to . . . oh yeah, a COMMUNITY of Christians). The whole context of the passage is community focused, particularly how Jesus Christ through his death has become the peace between diverse – and sometimes even hostile – members of a single community. The passage even goes on to say that the apostles, prophets, the Lord Jesus as the Cornerstone, and the rest of the Body of Christ is being built up into one temple in which the Lord makes his dwelling.
  3. Lastly, turn to end of the Story to Revelation 5:9-10, where a community is singing about the community that the Lamb has ransomed for God “from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a KINGDOM and PRIESTS to our God and THEY shall reign on the earth.” Again, I could share more, but I think that it is clear that throughout the biblical narrative, God has engaged himself in a great deal to make a PEOPLE for himself.

I have not yet even mentioned the notion of community that flows from the Godhead itself as the Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy perfect communion with one another as the one God.

Now that I have thrown Marc under the bus a bit, I’ll stop and embrace his warning because his warning – though not well-rounded per se – is still legitimate. I often wonder, “How many of our students come to weekly meetings because their friends are there?” “If so and so stopped coming or left the faith, would he or she leave too?” “Are they here because they know that the Lord Jesus has called them into the Body of Christ, to a commitment to this local church, and because the Holy Spirit is yearning in them to serve, work, and worship with the community of saints at Scofield?” These are fair questions, because a person can find a “feeling” of community anywhere – in your college dorm, as you sharpen your focus and truly become part of a degree program with other students, in a frat or sorority, on a sports team, through fitness, at a bar or restaurant, at a workplace, or through any number of common interests that you may end up sharing with others as you leave the student ministry of Scofield. Students – don’t mistake the common, human need for community with other humans for the unique, sanctified, reborn community in the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that the former is evil; I’m just saying that it is NOT the latter. Word.

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In Memory of Hadlee Jean Howe & Jaxon “Jax” Wayne Howe – August 28, 2009 – Part 3

Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer (Romans 12:12).

For those of you who do not know me personally, Aimee and I moved to Dallas, Texas in June of 2007 so that I could continue my study of God and the Bible at Dallas Theological Seminary. We are originally from Ohio, and nearly all of our family lives there; so, for such a tragedy to strike with family so far away really had the potential to cripple us with loneliness and no support structure.

Enter the Body of Christ. The days in which we are now living are tragic, depressing, confusing, and an onslaught of other things; however, God’s grace and love for us has been clearly expressed through the kindness and actions of the Body of Christ. From the moment we entered the hospital until now, thousands of people in California, Oregon, North Dakota, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and elsewhere have been praying for us. We have received cards and even handwritten letters from folks we have never met. Gift cards, money, Gideon Bibles in memory of Hadlee and Jaxon, flowers, fruit baskets, food, and much more have arrived at our doorstep from hearts that have sought to minister to us and aid in our comfort and healing.

There are several communities for whom I must publicly praise God. The first is Scofield Memorial Church in Dallas, TX. Aimee and I have served in the Student Ministry at Scofield since September of 2007. We have always felt loved and supported by the people of Scofield, but the way in which they have loved us in these recent, tragic days has been the clearest expression of gospel living I have ever witnessed or experienced.During days when we did not want to be alone, they laid down their lives to mourn and be with us. They came and sat next to us in the hospital and wept with us. I never had to leave my wife’s side because someone always brought me a meal. We didn’t have to worry about picking up Aimee’s parents from the airport because someone in the church already had it covered. I didn’t have to go through the pain and agony of finishing the painting I had already started in the room we had designated for Hadlee and Jaxon’s nursery because a group of men decided to finish it for me. I didn’t have to worry about feeding our cat because a brother took care of it for me. We didn’t have to tirelessly and emotionally search all of Dallas for a funeral home and cemetery to rest Hadlee and Jaxon bodies because our head Pastor had taken care of the detail for us. We weren’t strapped with the financial burden of burying our little ones because the people of Scofield took care of that for us. We don’t have to worry about food for two months because the families of Scofield are providing food for us.

I could go on. Not only has Scofield ministered to us, but also they have ministered to our family because they have witnessed first hand their love for us. I give thanks to God for our church family and that he has given his Spirit to the Church to comfort and care for the weak and wounded. Jesus’ Body has wrapped us up in his embrace.

The Seminary community at DTS has also demonstrated kindness toward us. The campus continues to pray for us, and the faculty and staff have been kind, generous and actively involved in our story. Chaplain Bill visited us and comforted us by participating in Hadlee and Jaxon’s funeral service. Dr. Daniel B. Wallace visited with us, attended the funeral service, and has been a constant encouragement. Dr. Gordon Johnston has ministered to me through conversation, attending Hadlee and Jaxon’s memorial, and messages through email. Dr. James Allman and Dr. Mike Svigel has comforted us as well. The students have embraced me on campus. There are five special men on campus who responded to a late night request. I will never forget their kindness toward me and how they laid down their lives so that a friend would have someone to talk to. Rob, Mike, Matt, Sten, and Ryan – thank you.

Two other communities that have ministered to us are the NNICU unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital and Shawnee Hills Baptist Church in Jamestown, OH. Aimee’s friends in the NNICU at Parkland have poured out their sympathy and love toward us. Thank you all for your frequent visits, your love for my wife, and your many gifts. SHBC used their benevolence fund to fly Pastor Jim Riggle in to conduct Hadlee and Jaxon’s memorial service. Pastor Jim did our pre-marital counseling and joined us in marriage before God. He has been a faithful guide and counselor ever since. Pastor Jim sat and counseled with for more than two hours the night before the memorial service. The Spirit of God was able to use him to draw out many of our questions, fears, insecurities, and to encourage us to “think all of our thoughts, feel all of our feelings, and walk by faith.” Thank you Pastor.

Each post has (and will) begin with Romans 12:12. In the next post, I’ll talk more about these words and address my hope for Aimee and me and for Hadlee and Jaxon. Ryan, you gave me these words at a crucial time when I was falling and reaching frantically for something to hold on to. You have been the dearest of friends to me. I am so thankful for you and the work of the gospel in your life. May God continue to bless our partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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