Jesus was the Church when he was on earth. The kingdom of God was present in him wherever he went. He told his disciples near the time of his death, “It is better for me to go away because when I do, the Holy Spirit will be present at all times.”
The gift of Pentecost was the amazing reality that the Holy Spirit came not to people to rest on them as in the Old Testament, but to live in them.
This is truly earth shattering.. We have the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, living in us. We are the Church because this is where God’s Spirit lives and worships.
So, let me ask you a question: Do you wake up each day saying, “I am the Church?” I can see many of you chuckling to yourself, or even shaking your head. I do it too at times because it seems so unfathomable.
Why would the God who Created the Universe want to live in us?
It all goes back to relationships. God pursues us in relationship. This is why he created us, and this is why after Adam and Eve left the Garden, he had a plan B which involved his Son coming to earth to show us who is Father is and what his heart entails.
The Bible is God’s story of how he is restoring the Garden and bringing his people back into paradise. He is partnering with us to bring this about.
God wants so much to be with us that he decided to come and live in our bodies!
Wow, how does this change how you think about God and how you think about your identity as a person?
How does this all change the way that you think about Church? We’ve been trained all our life to see the church as a building that you “go to” rather than a living organism of people: people who have God living in them, the Body of Christ.
As Missio Lux starts our second ministry year, we are focused on how to live the lifestyle Jesus taught his disciples and the lifestyle he is calling his followers to live today. The context is very different for the 21st century, and the challenge is to how to contextualize his priorities for today.
One of the avenues for discovering this is to explore more about how we as Jesus’ followers are the Church!
This statement defines how the Apostle Paul taught his followers how to Be the Church in Ephesians 4:
Missio Lux is a faith community
where everyone participates
serving out of our gifts and resources
for the building up of everyone else.
The next couple of reflections will be focusing on developing the four statements found in this definition.
Missio Lux is a faith community: Why do we exist? We exist to experience and share the freedom and hope Jesus offers everyone. Our connection to one another is based on our common faith in Jesus. It’s based on our desire to know God, love one another and serve the world. We recognize that when we live all three circles in balance, we are living in the sweet spot of life.
We recognize the challenges. It’s not easy to live a life of faith today. We have a million distractions, all calling for our attention. Our culture is moving away from a Christian –era into a post Christian mindset. We suddenly find ourselves in a minority culture, rather than the majority.
But, none of this was new to Jesus. He came to live in a very similar world. The government and the culture looked very negatively on the Jewish faith, and made it very difficult for them to live out their faith.
The Jewish Church wasn’t healthy. It was filled with people trying to force an agenda that was harmful to regular people; instead of growing their faith, they weighted them down with impossible rules to follow.
The economy wasn’t friendly towards the Jewish people. It was challenging to make a living. They were heavily taxed by the Romans.
Under all this oppressive weight, Jesus came, a breath of fresh air. He had a new message, an invitation to relationship and grace. He called people together in unity, breaking down barriers between them that were previously insurmountable.
I wish I could have been with him. Oh wait, I am with him because he lives in me. I can’t see him, but I trust that he is there because he tells me that he is in the Bible.
He wants us to be unified as his children. He wants us to stop looking at the differences we hold and start moving towards one another in love and grace. He wants us to reach out to those from other ethnicities and other faiths so that we can learn from one another and grow toward each other, rather than standing far apart.
If we are the Church, it’s pretty hard not to participate! Missio Lux is a faith community where everyone participates.
It is our choice, however, whether we hang on to what we own, or whether we are willing to hold it loosely ready to give it away. I am not talking about the mortgage on our house, but rather the simple things of life: such as our time, our energy, our money.
Here’s an example of how Jesus takes what we have and multiplies it. I found myself called to be with Jesus through most of the night Sunday. I was already really tired from our trip to South Carolina, Heather’s big going away party and a Missio Lux Celebration.
I needed sleep. But, all day Monday, I had a sense of energy that seemed almost supernatural. I continue to still have it today. So, here is how Jesus works. He called me to forego sleep so we could be together and then gave me more energy than a regular night of sleep would have given me.
He does the same with our time. If we willingly give away our time to participate in the Body of Christ, the Church, he will find ways to give time back to us. When we give our money, he multiplies it. I’ve heard the stories over and over, we’ve lived it ourselves. I’ve also seen how the money goes on the few times that I didn’t write our tithe check.
I want to challenge you to receive the invitation before you.
You’ve been invited to be in relationship with Jesus, the One who came to earth to show us his Father.
You’ve been invited to Be the Church because Holy Spirit lives in you.
You’ve been invited to share what you have in your hand, so that the Body of Christ is strengthened and able to reflect the character of Jesus whom we follow.
The challenge, however, is what we do with these realities.
Where are you inviting Jesus to come to live with you in a deeper way?
How are you spending time with him?
Where are you reflecting his Church to the world?
Are you praying for people silently or out loud wherever you are?
Are you speaking a positive witness about those around you?
Are you sharing what’s in your hand?
What do you have to give: time? Then give it willingly, not worrying about what you will lose.
Talents? Do you have areas of gifting that you can give to help Missio Lux thrive and grow?
Money? Do you have resources that can be shared so that Missio Lux can fulfill our mission and serve the world and its needs.
I urge you to pray about what Jesus is asking you to do right now. Take time to hear his answer, if you feel a prompting, that’s his answer, don’t try to reason it away. It may be a slight whisper but he will respond to your prayer.
Tell someone for accountability. Call or text someone from your missio community.
Then do it. Follow Jesus and help Missio Lux become what Jesus has spoken it to be: a thriving faith community where everyone participates serving out of our gifts and resources for the building up of everyone else!