Thursday, December 29, 2011

Is God Organic, Jesus Simple, and the Holy Spirit Missional?

Okay, I'm on a writing roll. I don't post a blog for months and now two in a week. What's up with that?

I write this blog mostly on aspects of what I and others call organic, simple, and missional church.  After a few conversations this week regarding the validity and definition of the terms, I've gotten a bit frustrated with how people are separating them from each other.  That somehow they exist apart from each other.
Over the years, I've always made a point of joining them together, and now I'm even more committed to that practice. I'll use the example of the Trinity being One, but all separate parts with unique attributes and purposes.

For the purposes of this blog post, and not to form any kind of divergent theology, I'll make the point that God really is organic, that Jesus made it all simple, and the Holy Spirit is profoundly missional.

I've written so much in the past on this blog, about how I define the word organic. But for those of you who may be new readers, or old readers who need a refresher, here it is again.

Basically, organic means to me; God initiated, God activated, God generated, God cultivated, God sustained.  God is the essence of what organic is. It's Him. Only Him.

Not the flesh, not good programs or strategies, not someone's current best seller on the topic, not current marketing techniques, or the latest fad in church growth. It's not "honey I shrunk the church" into the same form of church as what meets in a building every week, only now shrunk down to fit into a home.  What is organic may meet in a building, or anywhere else.  Where people experience organic church is really not that important. That people experience God in a living and present way, is what is important.

God and His initiatives, His agenda, His interactions with us. As Jesus prayed; "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." His will, now, today, everyday.

"Doing church" in this way assumes a relationship that knows how to listen in intimacy and requires abiding in Him.  It is a relationship of close affiliation and attention to that "still and small voice".

It acknowledges that anything apart from Him is worthless. 

It assumes that God has a unique plan for the day, and He wants to share that with us.   

Jesus Himself, who sought the Father every day for the unique plans of the Father for that day, is our example in how to live simple church. 
Jesus says that, "he did only that which the Father is doing". He didn't make up his own strategies, or complicated the instructions from the Father.
He just listened and obeyed.  Simple.

If Jesus felt it necessary to walk in this way, why would we think we can do it differently?

Although simple, it does require some things from us. Effort to seek Him, practice in listening to Him, patience to wait on Him, and the faith to believe in, and move with Him. No wonder that some people quickly take the easy way and pull away from this dependent relationship with God.

Scriptures say, "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:5-7.

 Without this dependent intimacy, the flesh soon rises to substitute a replacement. Soon that substitute turns into a system, then rules, and finally a religion.  And we all know that religion kills the Spirit.  Same ole', same ole'.

At this point, some are satisfied to say, "that's good!"  "Deep and abiding intimacy and fellowship, that's what it's all about!"  Something like: "me and God, God and me, together the two of us, just like it should be!" La, la, la, la, ...........

To that I say, no, don't stop there!  Your only 2/3 the way!  This is not all about YOU!

Jesus and God were not satisfied to keep their intimate fellowship and relationship to themselves - they desired to share it with others! "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life". John 3:16 

When Jesus left, he gave us the Holy Spirit to be the outward expresser of the Father and Son to us.  The Holy Spirit is the missional communicator of God and Jesus.  The outward and manifested reality of the Father and Son to us, so we can know and experience them in a myriad of ways.
The Holy Spirit has His mission - to reveal the Father and the Son and bring the reality of their existence to us.  Missional.

We are called to share this mission also.  To give the good news of knowing Christ intimately through the gift of salvation with others.
In all the relationships of our lives.  To those who know Him, and those who don't.   

"How will they know Him unless someone tells them, and how will someone tell them unless they are sent? Romans 10: 14-16.

 That's organic, simple and missional church.  Don't pull them apart.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Refrigerator Family Album

We hosted a Chinese student this fall in our home as she attended the University. When we were getting her packed up and making all the final arrangements for her to head back to China, she made the statement, "I want to be placed in your refrigerator." I blankly gazed at her, stretching out the moment as my brain worked fervently to decode the message. I have learned over the years through interaction with different cultures and languages, to use times like this as a fun puzzle game to figure out the meaning of words that may not initially make sense. This particular time it was taking me a bit longer to put the puzzle together, but finally I understood. "Oh, of course! We will place a picture of you on our refrigerator!" She smiled her big beautiful smile and said, "oh thank you, that will mean so much to me."

Now this might sound really stupid to you, and you may be thinking; what's this got to do with anything?

Our refrigerator, like many of yours, is full of pictures of our family and those we consider like family. It's like a giant photo album of those who are a part of our lives in deep and significant ways. Our Chinese student wanted to be considered a part of our special and extended family after she returned to China, and her picture on the refrigerator was a symbol of that and her continued connection to us.

I don't think many of us realize how rich we are, who have Christ, to those who dwell in spiritual poverty. We don't pay attention to how our light illuminates the darkness that some live in daily. We take for granted that we are members of an eternal and incredible "family with benefits" that others only see, sense, and long for, from a distance.

The scriptures say in Luke 11:33, "“No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light."

A light is meant to illuminate and be seen. It draws people to it as it dissipates the dark. It is up to us to put ourselves onto lampstands that shine with accessibility to those in darkness, so that the light of Christ may draw those in darkness to it.

This is not hard to do, because God has called us for this purpose -
He has put within us the light of Christ to be His representatives, His ambassadors, His living reality of the family of God in Christ Jesus. Our pictures have been placed upon the "refrigerator of heaven" acknowledging us as His own special family members.

Are you placing yourself as a lampstand in places of darkness so that the light of Christ may shine forth?
A light, in a room full of lights, doesn't add that much. It was created to shine in dark places to be fully appreciated.
Find some dark places to shine out.
See what the Light in you will draw to Itself, and who will want to be placed on your refrigerator door!

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
Isaiah 9:1-3