Summary: Thesis: Our Christian Family Is to Strengthen one another’s Spiritual Heart (commitment). Part of a few sermons that dealt with Dallas Willard’s "VIM:" Vision, Intent, Means, crucial elements of discipleship. This is on the "means" of growth.

Strengthening God’s Family

Dan’s sad senior year last mile race (i thought i could win districts, and my teammates just laughed. Sometimes that is the feeling we have about those who are supposed to love us.

Read text. Dallas Willard’s acronym “VIM” today is on "M:" Means


Thesis: Our Christian Family Is to Strengthen one another’s Spiritual Heart (commitment)

1. we have a Responsibility to each other.

Our Responsibility for One Another is born in the Love of Christ for us.

Sacrificial love. While we were sinners. Looked out for our God Redeem not condemn.

We do not want a severed Body--we want to build each other up

“As firmness of footing is a condition of walking and secure movement, so assurance of others being for us is the condition of stable, healthy living.” (Dallas Willard, Renovation, p. 179)

Willard relates how a child that is accepted and received by family and significant others will have a rootedness that will enable it to thrive in relationship, long after it has grown. Conversely, a child that is rejected, ridiculed, ignored by its family will have a much harder time giving and accepting love later in life.

It just seems natural to be wanted and valued by others. What that means is that “others” must actively pursue a commitment to one another.

He further states that sin has resulted in a brokenness in our social relationships, and boils down the two fundamental evils present: assault (attack) and withdrawal (distancing). It is “hard to imagine life without them.”

If Spiritual Formation in Christ is to succeed, the power of these two forms of evil in our life—within 0urself—absolutely must be broken.

We have the love of the Father in us that enables us to love others. Only his love can truly give us what we need to do that—is our community marked by love? His love? Do we have an active concern for each other. For all?

Some say we are not called to love all people equally. Perhaps it IS hard to do so. But as the Parable of the Samaritan shows—the Samaritan showed sacrificial and tender love to one he was supposed to hate—all people are to be actively loved by us.

That means there is no room for factions, cliques, or closed door snickering about one another. Snickering and sarcasm is fun, isn’t it? Have you ever been on the receiving end of it?

Some right claim: “but it is only in fun.” Is it? What does sarcasm about others tend to reinforce? It reinforces a dismissive, negative portrayal of that person.

Even “concerned discussions” about another person are destructive forces of unity within the body. It usually is merely a reflection of

 Our frustration

 Our lack of desire of effort to work things out with another brother or sister

 Or simply, our lack of real love for another.

 We even need to be careful in how we portray others when nursing our own hurt.

1 John says “he who does not love abides in death.” Notice, says Willard, it does not say “he who hates” but simply “he who does not love.” The mere absence of love is deadly. It is withdrawal.

Do you love your brother or sister? Do you honor them before your children? If all your words and actions toward another were to be summed up by your spouse, your friends or even, your children, what would they say? How might they feel toward that person? Would they love and cherish them, or look at them suspiciously or with reserve?

Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, p. 160 The illustration of charging new members: (don’t gossip, go TO the person involved)

Dallas Willard proposes two elements that need to be present for us to be able to have loving social relationships to carry out our responsibility (and opportunity!) to one another:

 First, we must see ourselves as WHOLE in Christ. Our lives are “hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). God has a plan for us, sees us as complete in Christ, and our focus on that will begin to overcome any feelings and memories of brokenness that may have happened to us.

 Second, we need to abandon all defensiveness. “This of course could occur only in a social context where Christ dwells!” (p. 195) This abandonment of defensiveness includes a willingness to be known in our most intimate relationships for who we really area. It would include abandonment of all practices of self-justification, evasiveness, and deceit, as well as manipulation. That is not to say we should impose all the facts about ourselves upon those close to us, much less on others at large. . . But it does mean that we do not hide and we do not follow strategies for “looking good.”

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