Jesus Christ

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Let me ask a question which has been on my mind lately… Who is Jesus?

I know it seems painfully simple and obvious; so obvious that we skip over this.
Maybe I’m thinking about this a lot because I’ve been reading @LenSweet’s book ‘Jesus Manfesto‘, but it never occurred to me that I actually might not have an answer for this question; at least not in the way I’d imagined I would have.

I don’t want to know who other people say He is. Everyone has some opinion about who they think He is, but what people say about Him and who He is Himself can sometimes be two completely different things.

Some people say ‘I know Him’, but that’s not always true. The Jesus I read about in the Bible often doesn’t match up with what their lives are saying about Him. I’m not interested in words being put into His mouth, or approving/disapproving presupposed ideas on who people think He is, I want to know Him for real and personally.

Maybe we take it for granted that we think we know Jesus… But maybe it’s time to rediscover this; pivotal, life changing, inspiring, worldview shaping, controversial, challenging, thought provoking, life saving, mind blowing, heart softening, forgiving, graceful, merciful, expansive, redeeming, transforming, paradigm shifting, God man.

Do you know Him?

Not of Him.

Or about Him.

 

Do
you
         know
Him?

Extract ‘Jesus Manifesto’ by Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola, P69

“In pondering Christ, you find that you are in fact living His life, and God is living yours. Christ in you and you in Christ. God doesn’t lead you through phases or steps. He draws you to Himself in continuous motion. What we often have viewed as stages or phases may be a change in music. But the point is never the music. It is the dance. The music is often part of the dance. But sometimes the most beautiful dance is the one where you and your partner make up the music as you dance together.”

Table for One – The lonely meal; Corpus Christi

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Matthew 26: 20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.[b] 21 And as they were eating… Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

30 And when they had sung a hymn…

Communion can some times seem like an odd thing to do… when you think about it. Most church goers will be familiar with the scene;  a reprise of sound, solemn faces, introverted focus and prayer, soft reflective music, stale bread, Ribena and whispers of ‘thank you Jesus’. I often wonder if one of the disciples stumbled across us doing communion, would they would be confused…?

Read the passage above carefully; the image you get is strikingly different to how we take communion today. They are all reclining (relaxed) at the table together. It’s a passover feast, there’s a big meal with lots of friend sat around together. They drink and eat with an emphasis on connectedness and togetherness. It’s not an isolated meal where they each reflect by themselves, but there is a sense of interconnectivity, a sense of community. They are not sat in a church hall, side by side looking at the floor.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the ways we take communion are not necessarily wrong; I just wonder if a more biblical expression is better found in an evening meal, face to face, with God’s people of faith. Perhaps a healthy expression of faith is to take time with people we would call our brothers and sister; cook a meal together, sit, eat and with each other take the meal of Corpus Christi – The body of Christ.

5 Steps To Dealing With Conflict

fight_night_4_06Matthew 18 says;  “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

This verse is often quoted when people are claiming authority over something, but to be specific, these are words of authoritative affirmation. If you read back to v15 it’s in the context of correcting someone. What’s being said here is that if a decision is made in resolving a conflict and the person challenging someone chooses to restrict someone or release someone, then heavens authority is in it. The bible gives us a guide to dealing with conflict and correcting someone in sin. In light of that guide, here are my five tips for dealing with conflict:

1) Get into Conflict:

This might seem dumb, but we need to realise that conflict is not a bad thing. Falling out is not a problem… not making it right after is. Issues rarely resolve themselves. We need to challenge each other and have the occasional conflict. Iron does not sharpen iron unless it strikes.

2) Speak it out:

As Matt 18:15 says, go to a brother and show him his wrong… if he listens then you have won him over. Talk to the person about the issue. Be sensitive but direct. There is a tendency to say something more gentle than the hard truth at this point. Don’t avoid the issue and be encouraging about the need to make it right.

3) Don’t let it continue:

Matt 18:16 says that if they don’t listen then you need to have a mini intervention. If your holding yourselves to account then this is right for the situation; take one or two respected peers with you and talk through the issue and get the person in conflict to see the issue. This is not about ganging up on someone, but about objectivity and accountability. DISCLAIMER: This may not work with renegades and unaccountable people… also outside a church or work context, it is rare to see this approach.

4) Turn up the heat:

Matt 18:17 Tells us that if the person still does not listen and is indignant, then we have no choice but to make the issue public. In a church context this looks like bringing it to the church leaders and beyond that a public Congregational rebuke. We go from 1-2 people having an input, to the whole community.

5) Isolate:

Matt 18:17b onwards tell us that if they are still refusing to listen, then the only other option is to isolate and excommunicate the person. This is simply to show them how serious their defiance is. It is extremely rare to see this in any mature church, but sometimes necessary. Normally a conflict is resolved by step 2 because people are reasonable.

These principles are transferable. In a non-church context it might look like a tough conversation, followed by friends input, followed by a bigger peer group and if no resolution is found step 5 can sometimes look like you distancing yourself from somebody as a result of an unwillingness to change.

Getting In Position

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In 1 Samuel 3 We find the story of God calling Samuel (in case your not familiar there’s a video retelling of the story at the bottom).

Samuel hears the voice of God several times while he is sleeping in the temple. The thing to note here is that Samuel hears the voice of God while he is in position.

God doesn’t speak to him in Eli’s room; He doesn’t speak to him on a walk, a mountain top, or in any other place. Samuel is sleeping in the temple where God meets His people. He hears Him because he is in a position of devotion, a position to listen.

God often speaks to us when we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

Most people say ‘I’m trying to hear the voice of God’, but have given up doing the last thing He told us to do.

Get in position. Be in His presence, in His rest and serve the house of God and its leaders just like Samuel.

You Produce What You Are

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Ephesians 5:8 says that we were once darkness and now we are light. It does not say that we were once ‘in’ dark but now ‘in’ light, but that we were once the substance of darkness and now we are the substance of light.

It’s an ‘Ontological shift’, where something changes it’s nature of being, into something else. You were once something (darkness), now you are something else (light)!

Paul sums this up and says, because you are now light… live differently… live like light!

If you saw an apple tree producing bananas or wooden doors, we would all stop and think; ‘This tree shouldn’t be doing that… that’s not what apple trees do. How weird is it that it is supposed to produce apples, yet it’s growing wooden door!’.  It would be madness to see such a thing! So if we are now light, should we not stop and think; ‘I am light… why am I producing darkness? It’s not what I do!’?

What we are has changed, we are not the substance of darkness, but of light.

so as Paul says… produce light… live differently!

God Shaped Hole

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You have heard it said unto you ‘We all have a God shaped hole within us’, But very truly I say unto you…

no…

you actually don’t.

We very quickly fit God into a small compartment of our life. In the West we are used to separating our lives. Our work can be separate from our family, our home separate from our friends, our money separate from our faith, our beliefs separate from our social life. But in following Christ we are not called into compartmentalisation… no… we are called into wholeness.

You’re not incomplete because you have a God shaped ‘hole’.

You’re incomplete because you’re missing the God shaped ‘Whole’.

Acts 17:28 ‘In Him we live, and move, and have our being’.

Let God permeate every piece of you. Filling a Wholeness not a hole. It is not just a segment of you that needs transforming, it is your whole being.