Before I had to have surgery and the holidays came upon us, we had just completed Chapter 10 in our discussion of Finding Church. I’m sorry that my surgery and the holidays interrupted our flow here and hopefully we can now finish the book over the next few months. We’ll start the new year with Chapter 11, _In First Place._
The church of Jesus thrives where people are relating to and focused on him. Most of us have learned to negotiate human relationships based on our competing desires and affections and who has the power to get their way and who is forced to go along. The church Jesus is building doesn’t play that game. As people engage a growing relationship with Jesus their conversation begins to reflect his presence in their life and his character begins to shape the way they respond to people.
Religion gets us focused on our performance, our failures, our identity, our group’s identity, and how to get our needs met. Everything about God is a tool to make our lives easier. Jesus had something better in mind, those who would embrace him, not a religion about him, and by doing that find their lives changing within.
In this chapter let’s sort out how it is that our lives begin to orbit around his priorities and character, rather than getting him to meet our expectations. What has helped you become more preoccupied with Jesus over the course of your life. What distracts you from that reality and what draws you into it with ever-more passion?
Excerpt from Chapter 11:
God never intended for us to live in such conflict and isolation. His desire has always been for a world where genuine affection and concern for others replace our selfish ambition. From the beginning it has been his purpose to bring everything that sin separated, including heaven and earth, into one glorious, new whole. He wasn’t the author of conflict or violence, but the one seeking to rescue the creation from its brokenness. His plan was to bring “everything together under Jesus himself.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) Where does that begin? Inside each and every human heart that allows him to begin to untwist the powers of self and shame so that we no longer fall victim to our insecurities. Where we trust his unfolding purpose we will no longer fight for our own, and when his desires become ours we’ll find a growing unity with others who are also living in that new creation. This is the community our hearts long for, a society that lives outside the human need to manage power. (p. 103)
You can find the discussion board here and see the list of topics we’ve covered. You can start at Chapter 1 and work your way through, or just join us in Chapter 11.