This post is going to be a collection of scattered thoughts largely inspired by a Keegan Davids sermon last night [so attribute all wisdom nuggets to him]. He managed to put a lot of good words on some of the things i think and feel and know…
Disciples over Converts
“Discipleship has collective implications for us and people” – Sho, this thought was too deep and could be unpacked for days. One of the biggest problems with the church as a whole is that for too long we tended to focus on converts and not disciples. Conversion being a one moment thing and discipleship being a rest-of-your-life journey. But with the greatest commandment [one] of Love God [with all your heart, soul, strength, mind] AND Love your neighbour as yourself… the collective implication is not just implied, it is commanded.
This links very closely to another point Keegs made which we don’t hear enough of:
Personal Relationship with Jesus is a Lie
“Breaking down the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus” – That is a lie many of us grew up with. The helpful-for-some analogy that accompanied it was “Inviting the Lord Jesus into your heart” although the problem of that compartmentalisation is that it assumes there are places Jesus is not invited into and people have lived as if that bit were true for years… my money for example – how you can call yourself a christian and not invite Jesus into your money is beyond me, especially when we have such a powerful story of the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus and while we miss most of the conversation, we do get to see the fruits of it which is Zacchaeus declaring:
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” [Luke 19]
What is super interesting and what i don’t think i’ve ever heard preached [someone invite me to preach!!!] is Jesus response to this:
“Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
So it is when Zacchaeus invites Jesus into his money, not his heart, that salvation is declared.
Have you invited Jesus into your money? What about your work? Where you live? Who you spend time with? How you holiday/do entertainment? How you interact with people who are in service roles to you?
So that is the aspect of “invite Jesus into your heart” which i have issues with, but probably even more problematic is the idea we have created and bought into of having “a personal relationship with Jesus”.
The idea of independence and hedonism and it’s-all-about-me’ness which the western world is very much a huge cheerleader of, somehow worked it’s way into the church, which is not meant to be like that at all. As this stunning picture of early church seems to indicate:
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke breadin their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Rather there is a strong interdependence that exists. The idea of the African ‘Ubuntu’ – i am because you are – as well as that fantastic African proverb – It takes a village to raise a child. The idea of the church in 1 Corinthians 12 where it speaks strongly about us needing each other. The idea of religion that God favours in both James and Matthew 25 [sheep and goats] and right back to the greatest commandment [Love God and love people] screams against any possible idea that this thing can ever be purely personal.
Worship culture has largely bought into it. Ideas like “my calling” and “the vision for my life” and other me-focused analogies help us to buy into the idea that we can follow Jesus in a vaccuum. But that idea sucks. #YesIJustWroteThoseTwoSentencesIntoEachOther
The Footprints poem picture on the beach is also misleading because as much as we are asking where the second set of footprints is when things get tough, we should also be asking where the third and fourth and fifth and sixth and fiftieth set of footprints are because the church is meant to show up when things get tough. And when things are just fine. There should be no such thing as a personal relationship with Jesus.
Each one of us is personally responsible for our lived out expression of our faith, our dying to self, taking up our cross and following Him and we will stand before God individually and so there is that… but our lived out Jesus following has to be done with others. We should rather speak of our communal relationship with God.
The Chains of Freedom
My freedom is linked to yours – I cannot be free if you are not free – Does anything more need to be said about this? Of course this is not a Keegan Davids original but it does need to be said again and again, until we get it. And then some.
Imagine if we all believed that we could not be free until everyone was free? Imagine if multi-billionaires believed that, if they would do anything different with their money. But also imagine if however-wealthy-you-are-right-now-and-if-youre-reading-this-on-a-computer-or-phone-probably-pretty-wealthy believed this was true, would i live any differently? Should you? It’s never too late to change, until it is.
What are you devoted to?
“Next up was Acts 2.42-47”, one of my favourite passages and although i have heard it so many times, it was just four words that jumped out at me as Keegan used it last night:
they devoted themselves to
What ARE you devoted to? No, really? We know Jesus is the right answer. Or Jesus and people as we saw above. But what are you really truly devoted to? Some would say you can work out the answer to this by following the paper trail… what do you spend the majority of your money on? [which is perhaps why i have always struggled somewhat with churches whose budgets go mostly to buildings and salaries, having benefited from both] We could get an even deeper understanding by looking at how you spend your time, skills, energy in addition to your cash dolla!
How goes that addiction?
“Our lives are interconnected – my addiction to comfort affects other people” – Sho, this one was a between-the-eyes moment.
My addiction to comfort. Sit with that for a few minutes. Or a day. Or this whole week. The rest of 2017? How does it feel or are you quick to dismiss it and move on. “Ah, he’s not talking me me.” i know i’m talking to me… so it just might be you as well.
And that was just the acknowledgement of ‘addiction to comfort’ – but to take it a step further and say that it affects other people? Wow, that’s starting to get deep.
i’m worried that so many people last night just heard Keegan preaching a preach and left the building thinking, ‘good preach’ and by the time they got home it was the distant memory of a good preach and not at all these atomic bombs that he casually dropped all over the place.
Don’t just cross the street and walk on and pretend that you have nothing to do with that guy lying in the gutter [that guy just might be you, after all]
Sho, i feel like that’s enough so i will just drop the other two phrases i wrote on my phone in here to do with what you will:
Power of the Holy Spirit
How we get this done. And what changes when we start to see everyone around us as the image of God bearers we know them to be?
Thanks Keegan for an earth-shattering preach. Looking forward to hanging with you this weekend and hope people take time to go back to some of the things you said… keep on!