Jul 242012
 

fellowshipIn my previous blog I talked about how important it is to live in community both for our growth and our Christian walk; about following the example set by The Father, Son and Holy Spirit of being in community; and that Jesus is praying for His church, that we would be one.

This week I want to talk about a very important word: ‘fellowship’. This is how we live out our community life together.

The word ‘fellowship’ is translated from the Greek word ‘Koinonia’ which has a wide range of meaning in the bible, but principally means “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.”

A powerful example of what koinonia should look like can be found by studying the phrase “one another” as it appears in the bible. When thinking about what community should look like it would be worth meditating and reflecting on the following scripture passages:

Following these biblical principles will give a good example of what true biblical koinonia looks like.

The apostle Paul uses the word koinonia in his letter to the Christians in Galatia. It’s an interesting reference: “James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship (Koinonia) when they recognized the grace given to me.”(Galatians 2 v 9). In other words, despite Paul’s previous history of persecuting the church, he was now welcomed as one connected with them in the Lord Jesus Christ.

This koinonia fellowship – one of the essential characteristics of authentic Christian community – has a dual dimension. It not only has a horizontal dimension of brotherly love between believers, but also a vertical dimension of being connected to God the trinity; loved by the Father, saved and redeemed by the Son and filled and equipped by the Holy Spirit. What a precious fellowship!

We are now in God’s glorious family with fellow believers we can call brothers and sisters united under one father. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!!” (1 John 3 v 1). We are called to love one another just as Jesus commanded in John 13 v 34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Next time we will look a bit more at this most important of attributes, love, and study some practical applications of how we can “love one another”.

 July 24, 2012  Posted by at 11:07 pm Community No Responses »
Jul 162012
 

CommunityOver the next few weeks I want to look at the whole subject of Christian community.

In my view, if we fail to understand how important Christian community is, we will struggle to grow and develop in our Christian walk. True Christian community is a fairly alien concept to those of us who live in a western culture. We tend to think we are in a community if we have a few friends on ‘Facebook’. This is miles away from what true Christian community is like. We may even think that by going to a couple of church meetings a week we’ve cracked it, but that is still a long way short. The early church had a good measure of community – we read in Acts 2 that the people were together and had everything in common, they shared their possessions and ate together, meeting together every day for times of worship and breaking bread.

The bible reveals that we have been created in the ‘image’ of God, made to reflect Him in many different ways. God reveals himself in the bible as being in a three person community; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We will never fully understand the concept of ‘one God but three distinct persons’, but we can glean a lot from how they lovingly interact and honour each other – the Son glorifying and obeying the Father, the Spirit revealing the Son.

Jesus reveals in his high priestly prayer of John 17 just how he wants his followers to reflect the relationship that he has with the Father:

John 17:21–26

“… .that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

What a glorious relationship that is! Perfect loving unity. This is what Jesus is praying for His church. We see it again in Philippians 2 verse 2 where Paul talks of ‘being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind’. It could be a description of the Trinity, but it is in fact a description of the Christian community.

The Christian community is to reflect the divine community. We are to love one another; share with one another; rejoice and mourn with one another and share our lives together.

In the next few weeks I am going to be delving into various aspects of being in community and how we can benefit from it. I hope you will find it useful. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your own thoughts and ideas as we look at this important subject together.

 July 16, 2012  Posted by at 9:53 pm Community 2 Responses »
Jul 062012
 

bending treeIt never ceases to amaze me how powerfully music can stir the emotions, from the saddest mournful tune causing heartbreak and melancholy, to the brightest melody which lifts the spirits and propels you with an uncontrollable urge to dance (well, almost!!).

There are some songs in which the very soul of the writer appears to have been poured into its creation and these, in my opinion, are the ones that can touch your own soul like no other.

Every so often I hear a piece of music which completely captivates me. Even as a child I would buy a favourite vinyl record and listen to it over and over again. There was a special lever on the record player (yes, I really am that old!!) which would cause the arm to automatically return to the beginning of the record and so I could play the song on a continual loop.

I have discovered a song recently which has captivated me in this way. It is a song called “Oh how He loves us” by John Mark McMillan. It can be a very powerful thing when you combine the truths of God’s word with song, especially when singing about how much God loves us. It seems His spirit delights to stir our emotions towards Him. I guess that is the essence of worship and the true reason God created music.

This song has a great tune and some beautifully poetic and original lyrics which have fascinated me. Having said that I didn’t always catch all the words (and do they really sing about “heaven meets earth with a ‘sloppy wet kiss’?”). I therefore made a search for the lyrics and here they are below:

Verse 1:
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I Realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

Pre-Chorus:
And oh, how He loves us so, Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Chorus
Yeah, He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us…..(etc)

Verse 2:
We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

Chorus
He loves us (etc)

Verse 3:
Well, I thought about You the day Steven died,
And You met me between my breaking.
I know that I still love You, God, despite the agony.
Cause people…they want to tell me You’re cruel,
But if Stephen could sing, he’d say it’s not true, cause You’re good.
Chorus

Ok, now I’m intrigued. I’ve heard a couple of versions of this song but I have never heard the 3rd verse. “Who is Steven?” I wondered, and “what happened to him?”

The more I read and discovered, the more I was struck by the aforementioned reality that powerful songs can be written through real tragedy and personal soul searching, the thoughts and emotions of the writer being laid bare for all to see, questioning himself with such things as does he still believe in God when tragedy strikes.

Here is John Mark McMillan in his own words during an interview:

Several years ago my best friend (Steven) was killed in a car accident. I learned about it while I was in Jacksonville, Florida, working in the studio. I was pretty devastated as you can imagine. I woke up the next day and wrote that song. I had a couple lines of the song before he died but I felt like the song was supposed to be for him so I sat down that morning and finished it.

The song is basically about dealing with the anger of his death and how I was pretty tempted to believe that God didn’t love us but that even in this death I can see that God does. I guess my question was if God loved him then why did he die, and the answer, I believed, was that he died because God loved him and wanted to be with him. It’s a difficult conclusion to come to and I’m not sure most people who sing the song completely understand where I was coming from when I wrote it, but I’m glad it’s touching people.

In fact I receive messages pretty regularly from kids who have battled with depression and suicide who tell me that the song actually turned them around and saved their lives. So I would never complain, and after all, I think a song can have more than one meaning.

My friend was actually in a prayer meeting the morning before he died and told the Lord that if his death would shake people up then he would give his life. I don’t entirely understand the implications of this prayer, but I do believe that the effect this song has had on people is part of a promise that the Lord made when He took my friend’s life.

There are kids who are alive now because they heard that song and that’s the only explanation I have for it. Just the facts. I don’t understand how all that works theologically. I just know that’s the way it is.

https://theblahblah.wordpress.com/2008/12/10/straight-from-the-horses-mouth-an-interview-with-john-mark-mcmillan/

My favourite version of this song is by the David Crowder band and I have put the Youtube video below. They miss out ‘The sloppy wet kiss’ and the third verse; I guess that is personal to the writer himself.

The video itself fascinates me, starting with David’s quirky face and the various clever video techniques. Anyway, see what you think, but above all else don’t forget:

HE LOVES US!!

 July 6, 2012  Posted by at 6:39 am Uncategorized No Responses »