Fellowship begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ. In John 14: 6-15, Jesus says to the apostles, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me.” Most Christians, even baby Christians, are familiar with this passage of Scripture. In many instances this is the passage through which they were led to put their faith in Christ! “If you want to know the Father,” Jesus says, “you must know me.” But few Christians realize it is also a truth that informs us about the basis for our relationship with brothers and sisters. Philip is confused about what Jesus says. “Lord,” Philip asks, “show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answers, “Don’t you know me, Philip?…Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” This is one of the most profound and important teachings in Scripture. Jesus and the Father are one and always have been one. The theologians would say that they are one in nature, though they are two distinct persons. Jesus said only words that the Father told him to say; he did only deeds the Father told him to do; he performed only works that the Father performed. The Father was so pleased with him that even before Jesus began his public ministry, at his baptism, he split the heavens and spoke saying, “ This is my kid, and I really like him. I really approve of him. I am pleased with him.” And Jesus has invited us into this same quality of relationship. So the basis for knowing and experiencing fellowship with brothers and sisters is entering a relationship with the Father through the Son. Fellowship with brothers and sisters for early Christians was a result and an expression of their fellowship with God in Christ and in the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 1:9; Phil. 2:1; 1 John 1:3). John Wimber
Our Theme: ON COMMUNITY.
Sadly, so many of us earth-dwellers try to do really good things out of our own strength.
Take “community,” for example. Today, there is a growing movement to build stronger and healthier community-living across the USA called Blue Zones. Author Dan Buettner and his book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from People Who Lived the Longest identifies several longevity hotspots across the planet and offers an explanation, based on empirical data and firsthand observations, as to why these populations live healthier and longer lives. Buettner’s organization has now developed a specific list of life-style changes people can make to live longer, healthier, and better lives. My city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has taken that list and is now offering educational and information resources, health programs, foods and food services, real estate developments, and consumer goods to those in our area who are interested in seeing our community become, yet another, Blue Zone.
Now don’t get me wrong.
I like the list of life-style changes offered by Buettner. If you are interested, you can watch his convincing TED talk. I found it intriguing that one of the key lessons discovered in the Blue Zone study is that there is a powerful element released into our human existence when people choose to live together in close community. And when that tight-knit community, Buettner states, is focused around a common spiritual belief with corresponding actions that live out that shared belief, the benefits to life, in general, are very impressive, indeed.
Hmm. Seems to me that I read in the New Testament about that same “upward life” theme as the Good News about Jesus spread across the Roman Empire during the first century!
But here’s the rub.
Here in my city, a growing number of Christians are very excited about Cedar Rapids becoming a Blue Zone community. I’d like to share in their unbridled excitement, but quite honestly, our local Blue Zone organization has, from my perspective, screened out all references to God and spirituality (which, of course, shouldn’t surprise me) and places all the energy to accomplish good at the feet of human effort.
Over my lifetime, I’ve seen way too many good people try to accomplish many good things through the power of their own wills. How often have I seen well-meaning Christians attempt to live in “community,” believing it to be the biblical way, but fail to realize that true koinonia (community) happens only when Jesus, the Christ, is appointed leader of such an entity?
You see, Wimber was right. The early church understood that when they formed koinonia (shared community), it had to be built exclusively around the Son of God. Christ-centeredness is not just a theology but a day-to-day practice that must be lived out if you and I ever hope to form a successful “community” that will truly last.
So, making my city into a Blue Zone? Sure. I say, let’s go for it, fellow Cedar Rapidians. But let’s understand that it will have its limits. The same limits will most likely be in your community as well.
Count me in. Let’s learn to practice healthy lifestyles, eat better foods, and treat one another much better than we currently do. But as for me and my household, any real Blue Zone I want to be permanently tied to must be one where the agreed center is Jesus of Nazareth. Call me a cynic, but somehow I just don’t think any secularized approach to “community,” where we all just try to get along, is gonna happen without him!
Father God, it seems as though every generation comes up with their own great ideas on how to make civilization behave. But in all honesty, trying to live in successful community without the full leadership of Jesus of Nazareth at the center of that community will ultimately fail. Holy Spirit, as my generation tries, once again, to find peace on earth through the exertion of human will, may I be found looking to you for the answers we all seek. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
- How can I cooperatively involve myself with good human efforts like Blue Zones and other positive approaches to life, placing my hand to help bring an upward lift to my community while never sacrificing my own personal belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the only gateway to true community (koinonia)?
- With these guidelines, how is your community healthy or unhealthy?
So, what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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