Friday, 25 June 2010

Worshipping Mission Community

Haggai chapter one makes serious reading for those who don't want to embark on that church building project. Just check out verse 4. Then there's the link to poor harvest: verse 6. Of course this irks me somewhat, since I think on the whole we need to sit much lighter with our buildings than we are typically inclined to do.

Is it possible that this passage might speak into some of our situations of seemingly low harvest yield in our outreach initiatives, i.e. with very few people coming to faith?

If it does, then I'm sure the answer is not necessarily to build yet more church buildings and just expect people to come. No, there is surely a deeper principle at work here.

The temple was a spiritual focus and centre of worship for the Israelites. Whilst worship did continue in the ruined premises left by the Babylonians, it would appear that the returning exiles were more concerned with getting their own houses in order than their depth of worship together. The physical buildings and quality of their restoration (or lack thereof) was an outward sign of deeper spiritual realities.

So as a community of faithful, hoping to serve God's Kingdom purposes out in the world, we must not neglect our gathering together for worship - coming afresh before God to exalt Him, re-assert our dependence on Him, and receive anew from the riches of His grace. We need to put the necessary work in to make this a fitting and genuine experience. Not to the exclusion of our outward mission (so many congregations seem to make that mistake ...), but integral to it.

Haggai goes on to talk of 'shaking the nations' in his second chapter. This link with acceptable and worthy worship of the community of faithful continues through the book therefore, with the full potential of far reaching consequences.

Friday, 4 June 2010

The Way

A favoured verse for evangelists:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.
It's a knock-out verse isn't it? For anyone who does not agree that Jesus is the only way, then we can quote Jn 14:6 and we are done. Surely a slam dunk. It enables us to be assertive, it gives us Christians power ...

Except that 'the way' of Jesus was one of self-limiting, giving up of power, laying down his life. So, it seems to me, that 'the way, the truth, the life' that Jesus speaks of asserts completely differently to our normal expectations.

There is still an assertion to be made, but the power dynamic is quite odd compared to our normal worldly way of thinking. We can assert that no-one comes to the Father except by Jesus, but in so doing we must de-assert our standard assumptions of worldly power. Otherwise, we are not continuing in The Way, and thus not coming to the Father by Jesus ourselves.