(note: this is a continuation of the previous post.)
A holistic community of faith engages real life, and all of it at that. Christianity as religion has become a compartment of our lives, something we do part of the time when we are in a particular frame of mind or at certain times and days of the week. Christianity as way of life pervades all that we are.
I’m tired of church just being about the exchange of religious commodities. I want us to see all parts of life as relating to the spiritual (I think of Rob Bell’s Everything is Spiritual Tour). We should share in all parts of life together and be able to deal with all sorts of things. I don’t feel I have to go super deep into this, because it just makes sense.
-Love as Action
Sometimes I think that before it ever was a feeling, love was an action, and it still is. When we truly love God and our neighbor, we do something about it. And that something involves much, much more than our checkbooks (though it can still involve those too).
An adaptive community would be proactive in seeing the ways others might be loved and then actually loving them in those was. An adaptive community would love each other well, too. We might even be known as Jesus’ disciples for it. That would be neat, wouldn’t it?
An adaptive community would be convicted toward both action and belief by: the scriptures, the Holy Spirit, each other, even your mom.
A good community can make mistakes both corporately and individually; what is special is when we recognize our sins and failures and seek change. Just as we receive grace for such things, we give it to each other.
Derek Webb once said that the best thing that could happen to you is to have all your sins broadcast on the 5 o’clock news. Then you’d have no choice but to rely on the grace of Jesus. I’m not looking to be on the news any time soon; however, a community of repentance is also by nature a community of grace and vice versa.
-Multiple Gifted Parts
I’ve expressed it before in the section on Technical Problems: we all have a role to play, because we all have gifts. We shortchange each other when we only rely on a small group of people to pretend to have all of the necessary gifts.
An adaptive community would be one that knows each other well, so that we could call forth the gifts we see in each other. It is often difficult for us to see in ourselves the ways God has gifted us. However, others see with much more clarity from their vantage point. We can trust them to call forth our gifts, and we can use them for the sake of others. Such a community would be powerful, indeed.
We aren’t building our own company or our own empire or our own kingdom. We aren’t seeking be the CEO of the next big, commodified, self-indulgent church. We live for a kingdom not our own and yet ours in the truest sense. When Jesus stopped by the first time, he came proclaiming a kingdom. A kingdom mindset allows us to see God at work in all the world; he is calling us to come join him where he is already working. That is, we are not going to ever bring Jesus to anybody; rather Jesus is already involved with people and invites us to come alongside him as he loves others back to wholeness.
Also, when we think of this kingdom, such wonderful things come to mind as:
In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, O house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the LORD.
(this gem is from that sweet prophet Isaiah)
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
(this beauty is from Luke, but really also from Isaiah…see how awesome he was?)
Also, thinking of a kingdom reminds us how at the end of Revelation (is it too dangerous to talk about that book? do we have to have an argument about dragons and horns and germany now?) no one goes to heaven. We don’t die and go to heaven. I’m sorry, I’ll say it again. We don’t go to heaven.
Now, before I get burned on any Western-Christian, pseudo-gnostic stakes, here’s the deal. Heaven comes to us. That is the beautiful culmination of Revelation. We don’t go up. Heaven comes down. This world and all that’s in it is worth saving to God, and he’s coming back for good. We will be raised from the dead to live here, and this will be heaven, a kingdom where all is as it should be, where all is as God intends, and he is surely good.
Creator on high breathed you forth
And set you in a frame of clay,
Gluing together flesh with the Word.
This is a community that puts on mud just like Jesus did; that is we make ourselves like the people we are sent to that we might love them best. We speak the language of our culture, and we reach people where they’re at.
What is it if it’s not a community of Jesus?
A good community begins with Christology. Christology (the person and work of Jesus) determines Missiology (God’s purposes for us) determines Ecclesiology (the form and function of the church). We have to look at Jesus first. After all, he sends us as he was sent, so we need to look at how how he was sent.
So after reading all that, one might think: well, that all sounds nice, but what on earth does it actually look like?
Well, I’m just not sure. That’s what we need community for…to figure out together what such a community looks like. I can’t dream it on my own, otherwise it wouldn’t be a community…it would be my faulty creation. But I do have some things to say about the form, though I have not seen it yet.
First of all, because it’s a community of adaptation and discernment, this community would not just be reactive and run to poles, becoming either a community of the new law or one of the new gospel.
Second, if it did ever find itself in one of those polar situations, a prophetic voice would need to arise either from within or from without the community to call it to repentance. And through a season of tough discernment and change, such a community would return to that oh-so-narrow path to which we’re called.
The other thing about churches of the new law and those of the new gospel is that they all seem to be the same. They have the same rituals and forms and liturgy, and it seems like we do those things just because that’s the way we’ve always done church. An adaptive community wouldn’t just repeat church forms (with their styrofoam wafers, jedi robes, and gold-plated candlesticks) because that’s what you do. At the same time, an adaptive community wouldn’t just seek to be different for the sake of being different. No, such a community would go through a process of discernment to create forms of relating and worship and other things based on meaning and personality rather than mere tradition (however, tradition would have a voice at the table, because we cannot forget the thousands of years of saints who precede us with their wisdom and gifts). Specifically, we would seek out our forms of worship and gathering and relating and other things through a process:
(to be continued next Friday…or you can read the rest early by viewing the whole thing at once here: Adaptive Community. The password is: password. Sorry, I had to do do it that way to make this work!)