helping to ignite your imagination, creativity and passion for following God…

Archive for October, 2010

Community of Individuals

Way of the Cross

Individualism

Right mouse click to save/download this audio Podcast as a MP3 file

The Apostle Paul writing in Philippians 2v3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

And finally, the Apostle Peter writing in 1 Peter 5v5-6 “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Individualism

Contrast those values to those of the twenty first century society, where morality can be summed up in this kind of attitude: “The more you care for others, the more they will care for you.” So look after the interests of others and you will also be looked after. In other words everyone is on level parity and there is total equality within society. In some of the more narcissistic and cynical parts of society, there is no other, the order is “me, me and more me and I am far more important and higher than anyone else”. Individualism is where the individual’s importance is placed higher than all others and is imbued with self-reliance and personal independence. Even when help and compassion are offered, so often there are strings attached and hoops to be jumped through. If you do this, we will do this for you. And sadly, it is not just within society that this exists, but also within the church and amongst Christians.

It is as if we are denying the basic rule of compassion and mercy, which dictates that we are to be serving others, because they are also humans created in the image of God, loved by God and so should be loved unconditionally by those who proclaim to be God’s people – the Church. Denying that basic need to others is pure unadulterated selfishness and places others below our own selves. Individualism within the church, lends itself to hypocritical behaviour and attitudes, which are inconsistent with Scripture and behaviour. Individualism, where you as an individual are placed at the front of the queue, is not loving others and not considering others higher than yourself. It certainly could not be construed as serving other people to always place your own desires above all others. There is an old acronym JOY – Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

Relationship

The basic aspect of love is that it involves relationship, so therefore there must be more than one person involved. God is love, and is a trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If God were not Trinity then God could not also be love. The church community is meant to be a radical community of service and love, which is a reflection of the Trinitarian God. Being part of a radical community of service and love would mean the Church going back to basics. The Church needs individuals to be living radical lifestyles of devotion to Jesus Christ, engaging with the culture, counting the cost of discipleship and reflecting true humanity. But being an individual in community involves much more than merely being an individual in isolation. Christians are to be involved within communities, and not as isolationists. So what does a radical Christian community of individuals look like?

Creative Community

Firstly, the church needs to be a community that is seen to be radical by the surrounding society. At Pentecost, the church began when the Holy Spirit filled the Disciples (Acts 2v4). This momentous occasion started the Discipleship process of how Christians were to live as God’s people. The hallmarks of this community were commitment and transformation. This community was radical. It was where people’s lives were being changed as the Holy Spirit filled them. Instead of being a withdrawn people filled with fear of retribution from the Roman government and Jewish leaders, they became a people filled with boldness and joy. The New Testament church grew by being a radical community imbued with radical individuals engaging with others. The very existence of the church today is proof that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead, for if He did not, those who were His disciples would have disbanded and gone back to their old lifestyle and the Holy Spirit would not have come.

Creatively Radical

If we want the church of today to grow then we need to be building a strong community of faith. A community, which involves joining together isolated and solitary individuals and where people are imbued with love, valued and are showing care to each other, in particular the frail, elderly and young, with what the theologian Jürgen Moltmann calls a “creative passion for the impossible.” An inherent human need is the need to belong, and by fulfilling relational needs, the radical Church community will become relevant to the people within it. It will then also become relevant to those who are on the outside and looking in. For example, by using virtual reality, digital space and social networks, the housebound and geographically isolated peoples can also be included and cared for.

This involves improving present societal conditions, rather than remaining a conservative community, which merely repairs the status quo. In doing this, today’s church will be emulating characteristics of the early church (Acts 2v44-45). As individuals Christians were added to the church, discipline helped ensure that the community was being seen as a holy community. We see in the early church as recorded in the Book of Acts, that to be excommunicated from the community for gross sin, was a severe punishment. However church discipline is not primarily about punishment, but rather a formative and corrective service as part of Discipleship. Church community discipline is foundational to the making of Christian Disciples, because it concerns the community’s spiritual health, and strengthens the bonds with the local community.

Committed Community

The church must be a community of committed individual Christians, willing to radically follow God in lifestyle and behaviour. Being holy for the Christian means radically exhibiting love for God and others. It is by being seen as different from the surrounding society, that the church community will grow. Often when prayers are said, it is within the perception of the individual pray-er of what the answer to that prayer will be! It is as if the answer is there, we are just waiting for God to confirm our presupposition. When, in fact, prayer is to be where God is answering the prayers in His own way and timing – often unexpectantly! By the church community and Christian individuals thinking and acting creatively, many more people would be seeing God in action. Instead of independence, one of the prime hallmarks of being a follower of Jesus Christ is the need to be dependent on others as well as being dependable. This is imbued within the story of Jesus Christ washing His disciples feet.

Transformed Community

The Church community is to be actively engaged in radically helping people to be transformed and not merely happy. Transformation is a powerful witness to the power of God and shows the relevancy of God and His people. The best way to show this transformation is for the Church leadership to set the example, and show a way forward. Good leadership has good accountability to each other and to the whole Church community. If the church leaders are displaying a transparent life of creatively loving God and others, then the individual Christians within those churches will also seek to be transparently loving God and other people. The media love to report when a Church and/or Church leader has done something inherently wrong

Finally, Jesus recommends that those who follow Him be wise like serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10v16b). This means that we are to be skilful and shrewd in making decisions that are characterised by intelligence, patience and shrewdness. Additionally, we are to be gentle and harmless, like doves. This would make our church leaders and us accountable to live a life of integrity worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1v27). This is a life, which is seen to be as holy and blameless. In order to do this, we need to depend on the Holy Spirit for strength and caring for others is a vital necessity for you and I. By relying on the Holy Spirit who indwells us, we are therefore perpetually connected to Jesus Christ, who is after all, the Head of the church community who are His bride.

The antidote to individualism is the continual creation of radical communities of transformed individual Christians, willing to be totally devoted to God, and each other and being sustained by the Holy Spirit who indwells, empowers, comforts, transforms, sustains and guides! By being radical communities thinking and acting creatively, we will be reflecting a creative Trinitarian God, and the Church will fulfil her bridal mandate of faithfully serving Jesus Christ, in submission to God the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus in Matthew 5v43-45 gloriously explains how to do this: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” And then to verse 48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Now that is the key to radically transformed communities and the antidote to individualism!

For more to think about please do ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. What in my life could I change, so that the focus is away from myself and onto helping others?

Q2. How can my church and I reflect the Trinitarian God by being creatively loving, transforming and serving?

Q3. How can I help my church be more relevant in the community where it is located?

Right mouse click to save/download this audio Podcast as a MP3 file

Paypal Donate If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. You can support via PayPal, the universal and most secure way to donate money online. You do not need to be a member of Paypal to use their facilities and all major credit cards are accepted. Thank you

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

POD – Psalm 40

podintro.jpg 

Psalm 40

Right mouse click to save this Podcast as a MP3.

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David.

40:1 I waited patiently for Yahweh. He turned to me, and heard my cry.

40:2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay. He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.

40:3 He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in Yahweh.

40:4 Blessed is the man who makes Yahweh his trust, and doesn’t respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

40:5 Many, Yahweh, my God, are the wonderful works which you have done, and your thoughts which are toward us. They can’t be declared back to you. If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

40:6 Sacrifice and offering you didn’t desire. You have opened my ears. You have not required burnt offering and sin offering.

40:7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come. It is written about me in the book in the scroll.

40:8 I delight to do your will, my God. Yes, your law is within my heart.”

40:9 I have proclaimed glad news of righteousness in the great assembly. Behold, I will not seal my lips, Yahweh, you know.

40:10 I have not hidden your righteousness within my heart. I have declared your faithfulness and your salvation. I have not concealed your loving kindness and your truth from the great assembly.

40:11 Don’t withhold your tender mercies from me, Yahweh. Let your loving kindness and your truth continually preserve me.

40:12 For innumerable evils have surrounded me. My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up. They are more than the hairs of my head. My heart has failed me.

40:13 Be pleased, Yahweh, to deliver me. Hurry to help me, Yahweh.

40:14 Let them be disappointed and confounded together who seek after my soul to destroy it. Let them be turned backward and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt.

40:15 Let them be desolate by reason of their shame that tell me, “Aha! Aha!”

40:16 Let all those who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let such as love your salvation say continually, “Let Yahweh be exalted!”

40:17 But I am poor and needy. May the Lord think about me. You are my help and my deliverer. Don’t delay, my God.

Right mouse click to save this Podcast as a MP3.

Paypal Donate If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. Thank you

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

ADD – Worldviews

ADD-cover.jpg

Christian Disciple and World View

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

Paul writing in Philippians 2v1-4: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

 

What was your worldview before you became a Christian? What is your worldview now that you are a Christian? Are there any similarities and differences between the two? What does a Christian worldview consist of and what are some of the thoughts behind opposing worldviews that are prevalent in Western society today?

 

Contemporary Society

Shock rock group, Slipknot, in one of their songs, describe people as the equivalent of excrement. Reality television programmes love to show the degradation and embarrassment of human participants. The London Zoo has in 2005 exhibited humans and treated them as animals, in order to reflect humanity’s “basic nature” and place on earth. The pornographic industry, despite protests from both religious and non-religious groups, shows both men and women in airbrushed degradation, with pictorial and verbal humiliation. All these treat humans as mere, undignified ‘glory-less’ commodities to be used and degraded, albeit, in the main part willingly. Some treat other people as either their equal or of lesser concern than themselves. This is following what is commonly called the “Golden Rule“, which is “do to others, what you would have them do to you”. Furthermore, there is the thinking that there are no certainties or absolutes in life, just your own perspective. Morality is a private thing and what is right for you, may not be right for me and don’t dare tell me that I am wrong in any aspect of my life. My morals are mine and mine alone, and it is my right. As for religion, all religions inevitably lead to some form of god or gods, that is if any exists at all.

 

Darwin & Scientific Materialism

Richard Dawkins, the eminent Oxford biologist and atheist, decrees that humans are merely a miniscule section in nature’s rich spectrum, and Darwinism explains not only how we got here but that our purpose has evolved just as we have evolved biologically and sexually. Based on this hypothesis, he sees no reason for a creator or any form of intelligent designer, as man evolved by “chance and random variations”. Further to this, he views “humanity as just one little twig”, amongst the order of primates. He does however admit, that humans have probably evolved as far as they can and further concedes that there is “no definitely accepted account” regarding life’s beginnings. This atheistic and naturalistic theory goes on to deny the very existence of a spiritual world and claims that our emotions such as love, fear, hatred and guilt, or our thoughts and feelings, are merely physical or chemical in origin.

 

A Christian Worldview

Contrast these with a Christian worldview. Atheistic views are entirely theoretical and are based entirely upon presupposed disavowal and disbelief in any form of deity, whether personal or impersonal, and belief that any kind of faith is blind, non-evidential and irrational. Juxtaposed against this thought, Genesis 1 asks us to rejoice in the knowledge of who we are, as the pinnacle of creation. Early Greek Patriarchs likened the creation of humanity to a royal leader being shown his new palace.

 

Again, contrast those worldviews against Scripture, which says, that humanity, both male and female, is made in the image of God, the imago dei, and is therefore according to one of the church fathers made to “reflect the Divine”. Paul when writing to the Thessalonian church said: “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

 

When God created humanity, it was in His image that they were created. The Bible indicates that humans are composed of 3 parts – Body, Soul and Spirit. The spirit and soul are only separable in thought and are probably best seen as two separate dimensions of the non-material side of a person – the spirit relating to God, and the soul relating to earth. All three parts, spirit, soul and body have an important role to play in our humanity. The whole person is valuable to God, not just the spirit as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Other philosophies and religions have tried to portray the body as evil or irrelevant, and this has crept into some parts of Christianity, with the tradition of priestly celibacy and asceticism. A break down in any of these areas can cause imbalance in the other areas. For example, research has shown that sometimes, physical sickness can be caused through emotional turmoil. Studies have also revealed that mental illness may occasionally be caused through guilt or unforgiveness. As humans we are created in His image, and as Christian Disciples we were bought at a price when Jesus died on the cross.

A biblical Christian worldview should include the following:

God created humanity, in His own image therefore higher than the animal world. Humanity subsequently rebelled and disobeyed God. God then took the initiative and promised a way out through His chosen Messiah. This Messiah was Jesus Christ, and he had simultaneously both human and divine natures. It was He, who as God, stepped into history and became confined for a short while by time and space. He was born so that when He died on the cross, it was to pay the price so that all of humanity could be freed from slavery to sin and disobedience, if only they chose to accept and believe in Him as God. He rose again physically from the dead, ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

Those who don’t accept Him as Lord and Saviour wil spend eternity apart from Him. He is the only way to God, and all other paths lead to destruction. That is why Christianity is the only true and permanent hope for the world. As Christians Disciples, living in the 21st century, we are to place God first, others second and ourselves last. That is the path a Christian Disciple is to walk, following and serving both God and others. It is done by taking up our cross, just as Jesus Christ took up His cross (Luke 9v23) and following His life devoted to being a servant of others. As Christian Disciples, we have God in the person of the Holy Spirit, living inside us as a deposit for our future life with Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1v13-14). With His help, we are being transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3v18; Philippians 3v20-21). You may well be able to add other things to this in order to form your own worldview.

 

For more to think about please do read for yourself: Philippians 2v1-18. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

 

Q1. How has and is my worldview being developed and transformed into a worldview similar to that of Jesus Christ?

Q2. How has my life been transformed in the last year and in what way can I continue to be transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ?

Q3. In what way do the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed help and reinforce my understanding of a Christian worldview?

 

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

Paypal Donate If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. Thank you

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

POD – Psalm 89

podintro.jpg

Psalm 89

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

1I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

2For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

3I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

4Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

5And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

6For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?

7God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.

8O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?

9Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

10Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

11The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.

12The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.

13Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.

14Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

15Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.

16In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.

17For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.

18For the LORD is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king.

19Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.

20I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:

21With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

22The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

23And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.

24But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

25I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

26He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

27Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

28My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.

29His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

30If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;

31If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;

32Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

33Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

34My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

35Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.

36His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.

37It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

38But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.

39Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground.

40Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.

41All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

42Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.

43Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.

44Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

45The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.

46How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?

47Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

48What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

49Lord, where are thy former lovingkindnesses, which thou swarest unto David in thy truth?

50Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; how I do bear in my bosom the reproach of all the mighty people;

51Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

52Blessed be the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

Paypal Donate If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. Thank you

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Ezekiel 36 – God? So what?

304157891_e532132e91_d.jpg

God – so what?

Ezekiel 36v22-28

Right mouse click and save to download the MP3 file of this sermon.

Right mouse click and save to download the text of this sermon in PDF format.

God – so what? Ezekiel 36v22-28

Good evening. Glad you could be here. For the benefit of those who were not here this morning, let me quickly recapitulate. We saw from Ezekiel first vision in Chapter 1 several things about God! We discovered that God is holy; that God is universal in presence, power and knowledge. We also saw that God is mission-minded and that He is personal!

(more…)

POD – Psalm 81

 

podintro.jpg

Psalm 81

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

For the choir director: A psalm of Asaph, to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.

1 Sing praises to God, our strength.

Sing to the God of Jacob.

2 Sing! Beat the tambourine.

Play the sweet lyre and the harp.

3 Blow the ram’s horn at new moon,

and again at full moon to call a festival!

4 For this is required by the decrees of Israel;

it is a regulation of the God of Jacob.

5 He made it a law for Israel

when he attacked Egypt to set us free.

I heard an unknown voice say,

6 “Now I will take the load from your shoulders;

I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.

7 You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you;

I answered out of the thundercloud

and tested your faith when there was no water at Meribah.

Interlude

8 “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings.

O Israel, if you would only listen to me!

9 You must never have a foreign god;

you must not bow down before a false god.

10 For it was I, the Lord your God,

who rescued you from the land of Egypt.

Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.

11 “But no, my people wouldn’t listen.

Israel did not want me around.

12 So I let them follow their own stubborn desires,

living according to their own ideas.

13 Oh, that my people would listen to me!

Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

14 How quickly I would then subdue their enemies!

How soon my hands would be upon their foes!

15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him;

they would be doomed forever.

16 But I would feed you with the finest wheat.

I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

Paypal Donate If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. Thank you

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

ADD – Community

ADD-cover.jpg

40. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Community

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

Jesus said in Matthew 10v16: “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”

How should individual Christian disciples react in regards to a life of Discipleship in an age where church attendance is rapidly declining? It is by being a radical community of radical individuals, which will help stop this decline. The Church needs Christian disciples to be living a radical Discipleship, engaging with the culture, counting the cost of Discipleship and reflecting true humanity while not compromising core beliefs.

Radical Community

Firstly, the church needs to be a community that is seen to be radical by the surrounding society. At Pentecost, the church began when the Holy Spirit filled the Disciples (Acts 2v4). This momentous occasion started the Discipleship process of how Christians were to live as God’s people. The hallmarks of this community were commitment and transformation. This community was radical. It was where people’s lives were being changed as the Holy Spirit filled them. Instead of being a withdrawn people filled with fear of retribution from the Roman government and Jewish leaders, they became a people filled with boldness and joy. The New Testament church grew by being a radical community imbued with radical individuals engaging with others.

Today’s church will grow by building a strong community. A community which involves joining together isolated and solitary individuals where people are imbued with love, showing care to each other, particularly the frail, elderly and young, with what Moltmann calls a “creative passion for the impossible.” An inherent human need is the need to belong, and by fulfilling relational needs, the radical community will become relevant to the people within it. It will then also become relevant to those who are on the outside and looking in.

This involves improving present societal conditions, rather than remaining a conservative community, which merely repairs the status quo. In doing this, today’s church will be emulating characteristics of the early church (Acts 2v44-45). As individuals became Christian disciples, they were added to the church. Discipline helped ensure that the community was being seen as a holy community. To be excommunicated from the community for gross sin was a severe punishment. However church discipline is not primarily about punishment, but rather a “formative and corrective” service as part of Discipleship. Church discipline is foundational to Discipleship making, because it concerns the community’s spiritual health, and strengthens the community bonds.

The church must be a community of Disciples, willing to be holy. It is by being holy, that the church will grow. The role of the community engaged in radical Christian Discipleship is to help people to be holy and not merely happy. Happiness will flow from holiness, but holiness will not necessarily flow from an induced ‘feel good factor’. The radical community needs to be making Christian Disciples who are trained, equipped and developed in order for them to make Disciples themselves. Whereas in the past, Discipleship processes and programmes have emerged after people have joined the church, it should be foundational. The best way is for the leadership to set the example, and show a way forward. Good leadership has good accountability to each other and to the whole community.

Radical Discipleship & Radical Leadership

A radical community requires radical discipleship. Radical discipleship commences with compassion, similar to that of Jesus when he looked over the crowds, and commented that they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9v36). It should be a compassion driven like that of Jesus towards the woman at the well (John 4vv1-26). With compassion as motivation, and a contrite heart, the radical church community can reach out to those emerging who primarily see Jesus and the church as irrelevance.

A radical Christian Disciple needs also to involve the voices of others by engaging in dialogue with trusted others. This will involve having a diverse team in the Church who are both willing and empowered to give advice. This team will require an individual leader to have relaxed grip on control, with power delegated to others, which is radical in that it goes against current strains of leadership.

This radical leadership style requires a pursuit of relationship in order to work, rather than a pursuit of aims and outcomes. This will enable trust to form and helps establish the community on a firm relational foundation. Once relationship has been formed, then the spiritual gifts of the Christian disciple can be used in order to serve the community. By exercising gifts and being functional enables the Christian Disciple to grow, be used by God and to flourish with confidence and support. Radical leadership and radical Christian Discipleship encourage the fringe members.

Finally, Jesus recommends that Christian disciples be wise like serpent and innocent as doves (Matthew 10v16b). The means Christian Disciples are to be skilful and shrewd in making decisions that are characterised by intelligence, patience and cunning. Additionally, Christian Disciples are to be gentle and harmless, like doves. This would make Christian Disciples and leaders who are accountable to live a life of integrity worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1v27). This is a life, which is seen to be as holy and blameless. In order to do this, dependence on the Holy Spirit for strength and care is a vital necessity. By relying on the Holy Spirit, the Christian Disciple is perpetually connected to Jesus Christ, who is after all, the Head of the church community.

The Christian Disciple is to be a shepherd leader rather than a manager, so that guidance and nurture are central, rather than merely feeding the community. A Christian Disciple who cares and loves is one who goes out to find the lost rather than waiting for the lost to come. This shepherd is also involved in the training of other Christian Disciples so that care is disseminated. This does not mean however that a radical Christian Disciple leader becomes a subordinate to the community, catering to every whim and fad suggested by others. The Christian Disciple leader needs be a servant but also requires discernment.

Discipleship at most churches these days is organized around their programmes of small groups, Sunday services, prayer groups, leadership group and opportunities to serve. Discipleship in these churches usually involves some form of leadership accountability in four key areas: Mission, Maturity, Outreach and Leadership. Mission involves helping people become Christian and nurturing their faith diligently. If Western churches and Christian disciples started to take radical steps, both in being and making Christian Disciples, then growth would systematically increase. The Church would no longer be seen as irrelevant but as a thriving community where Jesus is glorified and transformation sought.

For more to think about please do read Acts 2v42-47. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How, and in what ways, were the early church community creative?

Q2. What creative ways can I serve the community I live and work in?

Q3. How can I help my church be more relevant in the community, without compromising?

Right mouse click to save/download this Psalm as a MP3 file

Paypal Donate If you find these resources helpful to you, please do prayerfully consider making a donation. Thank you

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

I heart FeedBurnerAdd to Google Reader or Homepage

Tag Cloud