Behold Your God — Week Eleven, Day Two

8 Aug

Today’s study is pretty heavy in terms of reading but every word is worth your attention. One of the great things we must get free of in American evangelicalism is the insistence that spiritual health in the church means things are smooth and successful. Many years ago a good book was written entitled Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. We need a constant reminder that God often works through weakness, often works in ways that are contrary to our expectations and often works over the long-term to accomplish His purposes. And His purposes are often at odds with our purposes, even if we call ourselves Christians.

Today people are seeking community with other people (often outside the Church) but not communion with God. But in the end, this community will be temporary. Once I hit middle age and I can’t do the heavy duty exercise classes any more the friends I had there will fade away. When my kids grow up, the relationships I formed with their parents through their traveling sports teams will fade away. The same is true of school activities and relationships in their growing up years. Even in church, if the foundation of the community is in the church rather than in communion with God, it will fall apart eventually. This manifests itself in the church in both nostalgia and novelty. Some long for the good old days while others are always seeking the new thing, the perfect church. The problem for both is that they are focused on the Church as a human organization that teaches about God instead of a God-established and empowered body of people who love Him.

The only sure way to have deep community is to base it on deep communion with God. Shared ministry goals, shared theological interests, shared backgrounds will not cut it any more than the secular alternatives of social media and book clubs. But communion with God as the foundation of deep community works because community is not based on something subject to fade and change (such as physical health, location, local church structure and the like) but is founded on the solid base of God’s nature. This foundation brings together diverse people from many backgrounds. This is why a healthy church is not normally a group of people who are just alike but are a people who are very different from one another but are bound together by a desire to know God.

When we think about the fall in Genesis Adam and Eve, in eating the fruit, lost their community with each other and their communion with God. They hid from God and they covered up from each other. God’s saving work is about reversing this curse. Salvation from sin means not only deliverance from hell but also entrance into new life with God and with God’s people. Communion and community are restored, in part now and in the end fully.




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