Summary: New Testmanet Church dynamics and authenticity in principle and practice.
AUTHENTIC NEW TESTAMENT COMMUNITY
Pray - Read
There are many intriguing things that catch my eye, many clever ideas that engage my mind, many well thought through presentations that grab my ear. Very few of them, if any, will change my thinking or affect my living. Much to my shame I have often been attracted to novelties rather than to great things. Novelties will come and go and leave no noticeable change once they have passed. However, every now and then I find myself face to face with Almighty God over a season, and He breathes life, speaks truth, infuses power into a thing, or opens a whole new horizon of truth that I had looked at without seeing, or speaks to a hunger I have and in so doing turns it into a passion. And when I get up off the floor I discover that I have been so dramatically changed by that encounter with God that life will not, can not, will not ever be the same again. I find myself there this morning.
I have a passion, a longing, a deep life thirst that God has infused into my heart for authentic New Testament community. And I believe that the same is true for many of you this morning. As I have spoken with many believers from many different church gatherings over the last few years, I have become aware within them, and indeed within my own life, of a growing hunger for more of God, for more of His truth, for more of His power, for more of His life. There is a growing dissatisfaction within the Body of Christ, as there is within my own life, that all may not be right.
There is something wrong when the church is meant to be a place of joy, trust and forgiveness, but for many it has become a place of pain, loneliness and rejection.
There is something wrong when love, that is meant to be the hallmark of the believer’s life, becomes so very hard to see.
There is something wrong when people are leaving the church to find God.
There is something wrong when the very simple patterns of wholesome biblical community become complicated by the complex hierarchy of man-made structure, and the impotent endeavors of human effort.
Call me naive if you will, but I still believe it is possible to:
discover authentic New Testament community
experience the genuine spontaneous life of Christ as they did in Bible times
build an environment where we are not judgmental or critical, but where we recognize that it is a joy to embrace one another in our weaknesses, to submit to one another’s strengths, and to partner with one another as we maintain the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
love like Christ loved, to love without holding back because of the fear of pain, without keeping my distance for fear of rejection
join our faith together and see the power of God, power to forgive, power to heal, power to work miracles, power to raise the dead. There is so much more of God that we do not yet know.
I still believe in authentic New Testament community that is the experience and expression of the life and love of Jesus Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I cannot stand here and tell you that I know the way from what we have to what we long to enjoy, from where we are to where we want to be. To be honest, I cannot even tell you exactly what it will look like when we do get there. But I know for me, that what I have had over my 28 years as a child of God has still left me hungry for more. What I have studied in the Word of God over 5 years of seminary education and 15 years of full time ministry has left me hungry for more. The passion that God has placed in my heart and that seems to be insatiable has left me hungry for more - and I know that the same is true for many, many of you. So I want to join with you as together we journey with God, as together we go deeper with God, as together we discover the heart of God for us, for you, for me, for now.
I do not want us simply to go where we have gone, to do what we have done. That’s one of the amazing things abut people. When they are free to do as they please, they generally try to imitate others. That’s not what we are looking for.
I want with all my heart to know authentic New Testament community - and that’s what I want to talk with you about this morning - Authentic New Testament community.