(A true) measurement of disciples is whether the church life is at the center of their life. Loving Christ is only part of the picture. We also need to love what he loves, which is the church. Disciples love the church because God loves the church. He doesn’t look down from heaven and see divisions of churches. He sees a bride preparing herself for marriage to his Son. The church is the only thing Jesus is coming back for. If the people who come to our churches only get connected with Christ, they may or may not stay. But if they get connected with Christ and with other brothers and sisters in Christ, they’ll probably stay – unless the Lord moves them out. They’re looking for relationship and identity. They’re looking for reality and something that will get them through life. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON COMMUNITY.
As we read Wimber’s quote here on discipleship, I envision true Christian community as being very similar to a three-pronged electrical plug. Let me walk you briefly through each of the three important components, as I see them:
CONNECTEDNESS TO CHRIST
The first and most important prong of Christian community represents our secure alignment with Christ. Without a primary focus on Jesus of Nazareth, our community experiences will be nothing more than a commitment to some sort of a social organization. Sadly, many Americans attend church out of a sense of duty or possibly because of a need to be seen or heard, thus too many churches become not much more than a country club where membership revolves around what I referenced earlier as the 3-Bs: where we measure success by the size of (B)uildings, the stack of (B)ucks in the offering, and the number of (B)utts in the seats. John Wimber firmly believed that any Christian church must be Christ-centered, with Jesus of Nazareth becoming the power source behind any successful attempt at community.
CONNECTEDNESS TO OTHERS
The second prong of Christian community represents our firm connectedness to one another. As we discussed in our last blog, there are dozens of references in the New Testament where Christ-centered people are commanded to love one another; living sacrificial lives that prefer others over and above our own selfish interests. Casual commitments to fellow believers just didn’t exist in the New Testament church and John Wimber would often remind pastors within the Vineyard movement that it was relatively easy to gather a crowd, but vastly different to actually birth a church community. To Wimber, there was a huge difference between groups of loosely connected people (a crowd) versus an assembled gathering of disciples (a real church).
GROUNDED IN LOVE
All electrical plugs in our homes have two prongs conducting the electricity that flows from the power source (the outlet in the wall) to the appliance or tool being used. The first electrical wire conducts the positive (incoming) flow of electricity, while the other conducts the negative (outgoing) flow. So it is with Christian community. Our incoming power always comes from Jesus Christ, the ultimate source of energy throughout the universe; while our outgoing commitment to others empowers all we call Christian mission. Disconnect either one of these two wires and our appliance called Christian community just won’t work! Remember this. All UL-tested and approved electrical plugs sold in the USA and Canada must also include, by law, a third prong called the grounding wire. As I see it, the grounding wire in all Christian community is agape: unconditional love, received from heaven above and then given away freely to others around us. Jesus spelled it out this way in his powerful prayer found in John 17: 20-23 (NIV):
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
So there you have it. True Christian community! It is a connectedness to Christ and a connectedness to others with agape love grounding everything we say and do.
Now, all we have to do, my fellow Christian disciples, is stop twiddling our thumbs as we sit idly in the pews, get up out of our seats, and plug our “Christian community” appliance into the wall socket to make all the lights come on!
And the light coming from that flame can truly light the world!
The life-changing power of true Christian community is amazing, God. It worked well in the early church, I believe you can make it work well today. I choose, Master, to do my part. I want to become totally connected to Christ, completely connected to others, while allowing your agape love to ground us along the way. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- Where is there a loose connection in my wiring when it comes to true Christian community? Am I fully connected with Jesus of Nazareth or is my relationship on a hit-and-miss basis? What about my connectedness to my brothers and sisters in Christ?
- Is it in words alone or am I doing all Jesus asks of me in connecting with others?
- Finally, is agape love grounding all of my relationships, both my relationship with God and my relationships with others?
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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