“Formed In Community”

“The life into which we grow to maturity in Christ is a life formed in community.”

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Today is Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Day 21,677.

“There is an evil tendency underlying all our technology – the tendency to do what is reasonable even when it isn’t any good.” ~ Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The Quotations Page

The word of the day is ovine, an adjective meaning, “pertaining to, of the nature of, or like sheep.”

Today is Mandela Day, celebrated each year on the birthday of Nelson Mandela. “The heart of Mandela Day is service to others and the creation of a better world for everyone.”

We didn’t have any actual peach ice cream, yesterday, but we had frozen peaches and vanilla ice cream, which were delicious together. We still have several more bags of frozen peaches, some of which, no doubt, will become peach cobbler, at some point.

The Rangers and Red Sox both lost, last night. Boston is still in first, two games up on the Rays. Texas has dropped to third, as Seattle has overtaken them. The Rangers are 16.5 games out.

I forgot to mention, yesterday, that we lost both George Romero (filmmaker) and Martin Landau (actor) over the weekend. Landau was 89. Romero was only 77. I was surprised that he wasn’t older. I guess I didn’t realize he was only in his late twenties when he did Night of the Living Dead.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! 
Psalm 96:1
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah.
Psalm 67:1
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.
Psalm 65:5
Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Psalm 93:5
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 
who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:44-46
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Psalm 84:2

A quote from C.S. Lewis for today, from Mere Christianity:

“We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”

(From Practice Resurrection)

In yesterday’s portion, we talked about language in conversations with God. As we mature, the language becomes more personal. But it also becomes “more inter-personal.” It becomes a conversation with many voices, which cannot be held down to a sort of “private Jesus-and-me-in-the-garden-alone” kind of thing. To be sure, there will be, and should, moments of private devotion and conversation with Jesus. But we can’t have him all to ourselves. The conversation must be extended to the other people whom God is calling. “The life into which we grow to maturity in Christ is a life formed in community.”

That last sentence is an important one. “The life into which we grow to maturity in Christ is a life formed in community.”

As we study Ephesians, we are shaped into awareness of, not just ourselves, but “all the other pilgrims on the road in simultaneous diversity and unity.” Paul calls this collective “the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

As we worship together, we have “the basic form and . . . the essential content for this aspect of ‘growing up’ to the ‘full stature of Christ.'” Trying to worship alone in front of the TV is “not mature worship.” Sure, just like the conversations, we can have some pretty intense moments of private worship. I experienced some of those on the coast of Oregon last month. However, “what we must not do is deliberately exclude others from our worship or worship selectively with like-minded friends.” Ephesians does not offer those options. In truth, the early church knew nothing of that way of thinking. “Maturity develops in worship as we develop in friendship with the friends of God, not just our preferred friends.”

“If we are going to grow up into Christ we have to do it in the company of everyone who is responding to the call of God. Whether we happen to like them or not has nothing to do with it.” (Emphasis mine)

Father, these are some hard truths, and difficult for most of us to handle. Nevertheless, they are truths that we must take in and truths by which we must abide. Help me to be of the same mind in this, that worship must be in community of all who are called in this walk with Christ, regardless of whether I like them. And, in truth, as we worship together, the “liking” part will become irrelevant. Teach me your ways, Lord, that I may walk in your truth, and that I may walk in that truth in community.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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