• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Thoughts Along The Journey

David & Becky Riddell“To journey together” implies the participation of at least three people: God, you, and me.  Our first calling is to turn to Him and ask for His wisdom, His grace and the courage to step out into this hopeful future that He, our King, has designed for us.  I believe that our next calling is to turn towards one another and explore collectively what some of those ‘next steps’ might be as we “journey together.”  When we make this turn towards one another, we discover one of the first elements on our journey together: our need for community.

Community is one way to describe “koinonia” which is frequently found in the Scriptures.  At its heart, koinonia is the joint participation or fellowship that we share with another: “in the life of God in Christ, and … in the whole sweep of his redemptive mission.”1 The value we attribute to community indicates the depth and ongoing growth of our own relationship with Jesus Christ.2 In one of the most striking prayers of the New Testament, the church planter Paul calls out to the Father on behalf of fellow believers that [they], being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God.3 This prayer expresses the fact that without others, without shared participation, we cannot wholly understand and experience the love of Christ.

So, how do we find our way along the journey? Take a moment to observe some of the markers on this significant path to community. One marker is our acknowledgement of need. We need community to Another marker is that of self surrender.  C.S. Lewis put it well: “From the highest to the lowest, self exists to be abdicated and, by that abdication, becomes more truly self, to be thereupon yet the more abdicated, and so forever.” Self surrender prioritizes giving and receiving; that we share what we have with others as well as joyfully receiving what others have to share with us.  It means being “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger”, and I believe we should add, “quick to forgive.”  A third marker is Trinitarian modeling.  The original “community of oneness” serves as a clear pattern for the relationships we share in community with one another.4 Was this not the significance of Christ’s prayer in John 17 that His disciples would reflect the unity and the community that exists between the Father and the Son?

In the past, we have talked a lot about “teams”: working as a team, working on a team and discovering your team.  And rightly so, but perhaps we should also talk more about “community”.  What community are you a part of?  How is your community helping you to grow deeper in your life in God and discover your part in His larger redemptive mission?  Becky and I have been part of some strong communities during the past number of years. As we move into new responsibilities, we are looking to discover new communities where we can minister and be ministered to.  We would covet your prayers for this search and will pray that each of you will find the experience of community that God has for you at this time.

Some might be tempted to make community the “end all” of what we do, but gospel community must give rise to ministry. We will explore more of this and ‘next steps’ in another edition of “Thoughts along the journey.”

1 Milne, Bruce, We Belong Together, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978, p. 30

2 “The quality of Christians’ relationship with fellow believers, particularly in the local church, is therefore one of the primary indicators of the quality of their relationship to the Lord.” Milne, Bruce, We Belong Together, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1978, p. 7

3 Ephesians 3:17-18 (ESV)

4 An excellent treatise on this idea is found in the book, Ministry in the Image of God, by Stephen Seamands, Downers Grove IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005.

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