Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Fabulous Fifty Nine : Climate control for an uncertain time.

'One anothering' is one of those church phrases that the rest of the world rarely registers. However, the fifty nine one another references in the New testament are all so active and powerful that it's time we gave them a bit of airtime and started living them out.

Eat, sleep, read, repeat as the song goes (almost!) Through a time of unprecedented change at a local church level, my prescription is that we do just that. Copy and print. Stick them around the house, meditate on them in the mornings. We will mature as we align with this truth, as we let them become the default setting, the climate control for this season of life together in the local church. When there is so much change going on, we can quickly become consumed by the 'what' and the 'how'. All important, but these one another's show us that 'who' we are together through the process is far more important.

We could summarise them negatively : Refuse factions, refuse gossip, be wise on Facebook, don't email each other when you could talk. Don't hold onto hurts and grudges. Forgive quickly, don't get isolated, keep meeting with God's people that do you good. It's helpful to view them in contrast, but they hold most impact in the positive.

May these fabulous fifty nine verses of scripture lead the way, set the tone, dictate the culture, and help make the constant change, uncertainty and upheaval of church life a totally safe, secure, loving and growing environment!

1. “…Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)
2. “…Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
3. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
4. “…Love one another…” (John 13:34)
5. “…Love one another…” (John 13:35)
6. “…Love one another…” (John 15:12)
7. “…Love one another” (John 15:17)
8. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10)
9. “…Honour one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
10. “Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)
11. “…Love one another…” (Romans 13:8)
12. “…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
13. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7)
14. “…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)
15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss…” (Romans 16:16)
16. “…When you come together to eat, wait for each other.” (I Cor. 11:33)
17. “…Have equal concern for each other.” (I Corinthians 12:25)
18. “…Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20)
19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (2 Corinthians 13:12)
20. “…Serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13)
21. “If you keep on biting and devouring each other…you will be destroyed by each other.”
(Galatians 5:15)
22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:26)
23. “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
24. “…Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
25. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
26. “…Forgiving each other…” (Ephesians 4:32)
27. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)
28. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)
29. “…In humility consider others better than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
30. “Do not lie to each other…” (Colossians 3:9)
31. “Bear with each other…” (Colossians 3:13)
32. “…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” (Colossians 3:13)
33. “Teach…[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)
34. “…Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
35. “…Make your love increase and overflow for each other.” (I Thessalonians 3:12)
36. “…Love each other.” (I Thessalonians 4:9)
37. “…Encourage each other…”(I Thessalonians 4:18)
38. “…Encourage each other…” I Thessalonians 5:11)
39. “…Build each other up…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
40. “Encourage one another daily…” Hebrews 3:13)
41. “…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)
42. “…Encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
43. “…Do not slander one another.” (James 4:11)
44. “Don’t grumble against each other…” (James 5:9)
45. “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16)
46. “…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)
47. “…Love one another deeply, from the heart.” (I Peter 3:8)
48. “…Live in harmony with one another…” (I Peter 3:8)
49. “…Love each other deeply…” (I Peter 4:8)
50. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (I Peter 4:9)
51. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others…” (I Peter 4:10)
52. “…Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another…”(I Peter 5:5)
53. “Greet one another with a kiss of love.” (I Peter 5:14)
54. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:11)
55. “…Love one another.” (I John 3:23)
56. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:7)
57. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:11)
58. “…Love one another.” (I John 4:12)
59. “…Love one another.” (2 John 5)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Great Expectations : Hope for hype hunters

Expectation: A strong belief that something will happen or be the case.
At its most potent this firm, unshakeable belief in a certain outcome produces anticipation, expectancy, eagerness and hope.

These are the feelings that flood through us when we are convinced something is going to change. They are powerful motivators, and when this kind of expectant hope is kindled corporately in a local church community, undiluted anticipation can rush through the whole and bring real forward momentum.

Our problem comes when reality fails to meet our great expectations. The irresistible force of our assumed progress crunches up against the immovable object of reality. And it's reality that bites. Time and again we fail to hit the mark, sometimes coming in close, sometimes nowhere near. Either way, we become conditioned to failure and disappointment.

Nothing saps hope in the local church more than this. We dared to believe, but look what happened. From the people who came out of Egypt to the disciples who found themselves locked in fear in the upper room, you can see their heads dropping, their hearts breaking, their courage fleeing.

What's the answer? Lower our expectations? Our defence mechanisms would give us this as the easy way out. Expect nothing from anybody and you will never be disappointed. Set really low targets, aim only at what you know you can hit, never show courage, never reach long, under no circumstances allow yourself to dream. It saves you from crushing disappointment, but you are living in the doldrums anyway and who is going to gather to such a damp and negative vision?

But we love the hype, we seek the superlative, and when real life disappoints, we hunt hype like a drug in the inconsequential things. Every World Cup that comes around we are definitely going to win. What good is a build up that manages our expectations so carefully that we are happy with defeat at an early stage? No,we live for the glory, the stand or fall, the die trying attitude - That's what we tune in to see, or gather to follow.

Back in the real world, we can't take too much disappointment before we just stop hoping and become cynical, reverting back to our emotional defence systems and lowered expectations; Conditioned to failure, better to survive in life than to dream.

In Ephesians 3.20 Paul paints a picture of the local church being the most robustly expectant people on the planet. No hint of cynical suppression to be found. Instead the polar opposite, wide eyed, sky high hope pumps through the passage.
'Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.'
No lowering of the bar here, rather a realisation that when it comes to the promise of God for his people, you can't out superlative God and his expectations for us.

Perhaps it's time that we stepped back from the edge of mere hopeful hype, or lifted our weary heads from dismal pessimism to realign ourselves to his definition of expectation?  Immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine - More than we could express or dare to believe - here is a true definition of expectation to re calibrate ourselves to.