Posts Tagged ‘Sharing Life’

Asking this question and answering it make sense if you are part of some kind of performance being presented to an audience. However, in thinking about sharing life and church it is not only irrelevant but dangerous to think of sharing life as part of church. Sharing life together is how church is to be defined and is the most relevant way those outside of the church will detect any truth to what Jesus is about.

Acts 2 and 4 are still in the Bible and we must find ways to do this in the midst of whatever culture we live in. Think of the freedom and refreshment of people who are trying to make life work without Jesus, when they step into lives meshed together in authentic community, serving one another, caring for one another and always available for each other. When we tell them this is “church” they have a bizarre look on their face and we know they have never seen it like this. This group of people go the pub together, play games, laugh frequently, listen to one another, help people rake their leaves, help raise each others kids, and are seriously working at following Jesus. They talk about the stuff at work but offer advice as to how to bring Jesus into the workplace in a way that makes sense.

The meaning of John 13:34 and 35 are more clearly seen in the living rooms, kitchens, garages and yards and people are attracted to Jesus. You don’t have to throw out the Sunday meeting but think about what an outsider sees with regard to the John verses in the Sunday context. Most of what they conclude is that we show up at a meeting on Sunday but there is no way to really observe how this works in real life.

Sharing life with one another is a better context to understanding church than any meetings we might attend.

310/365 Sharing

310/365 Sharing (Photo credit: cheesy42)

Exercise

Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)

We look in the mirror and say that something’s gotta change. However, there is no disappearing act for the extra 20 pounds we want to leave. So we commit to one day a week for 15 minutes to deal with it. It’s obvious to everyone (including ourselves) that we only think we want to get into the smaller size jeans.

But, we say we really do want to share our life with others who are dead serious about walking with Jesus. “I believe I could get together a couple of times a month for maybe an hour if it’s not Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday nights” we say, and we dive in to this life changing event.

Matthew 10:39 quickly separates those who have life changing stories to share from those who love to listen to others share these kinds of stories. There is no discovery without the loss of something else. In this case it is His life for ours. This is the “eat my flesh and drink my blood” seminar by Jesus in John 6. A wise man said in Ecclesiastes 7:8 “…endings are better than beginnings” and in 1 Kings 20:11 it says that it is easy to brag about being ready for a battle but another thing to listen to one who comes back from the battle.

There are people who have concluded that Jesus must have meant something more than what they are experiencing in their life with other Christians, and they are ready to make the commitment to find it with others. Is this something you wake up wanting more than anything else that might happen that day? Ask God to intersect your life with someone else who wakes up thinking that maybe this is the day they will meet you.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

In 1991 I took several students to Athens, Greece on an 8 week summer mission project to work with refugees from several countries. The main purpose was to help these students learn in real life and from challenging situations, some aspects of what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. Tight sleeping quarters, strange food (for us), language barriers, major traffic (5 million live in Athens) all contributed to our learning.

We could have done a Bible study on selfishness or how to get along with people who don’t agree with you, while sitting at Starbucks in Denver but that would be an inadequate setting to really learn about these aspects of life. It is doing life together where learning intersects our biases and preferences. It disturbs our comfortable lifestyle when you want Mexican food but there are no restaurants of this nature in sight.

When Jesus called the potential disciples to “come follow me” in Matthew 4:19, his plan was to spend almost 3 years with them in situations that would have caused most of us to change the channel on our TV and continue continue eating our popcorn. But think of what they would learn and how they would be impacted forever. Or consider what Timothy learned from Paul as seen in 2 Timothy 3:10 and 11. This could not have adequately been taught in a sterile environment.

Implications: Messages delivered on Sunday mornings, Bible studies in a living room, teaching done in an auditorium are ok but fail to deliver the necessary visual aid that only happens as we share life together.

How can you begin to learn like this and help others learn by sharing life together?

It seems to happen with increasing regularity-a sports figure is accused of or admits to taking some kind of steroid which gives them an advantage in their sport. It takes a while to detect but the results are the same. Not only is the person’s selfishness exposed but the entire team is damaged and the sport is tarnished.

If our focus is that we would be recognized or that we would be the one who contributes most to the win, we have missed the point. In order for a community of believers to go deeper into each other’s lives, the focus must be on helping each other succeed. We can learn to do this by exposing our needs and our weaknesses as well as how we are winning the battle. We can learn to ask questions of each other that expresses genuine interest in the other person and is motivated by their succeeding in the daily war we have with life and the enemy.

Philippians 2:3 and 4 captures the thought. “…don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (The Message) Building community is hard enough in the fast paced culture we live in, but let’s not cripple it by drawing attention to ourselves rather than the rest of the team. Everyone has the opportunity to win the battles life serves up to us each day when we are committed to each other in this way.

real people

real people (Photo credit: the|G|™)

Haven’t you ever asked someone

a question about something and realized somewhere during their response you just wanted to get in a fast car and leave as quickly as you could? You just wanted to know about their weekend but instead you got the history of how their parents neglected them and the 15 things that were wrong with their kids.

And what if you asked someone in your community group what they really thought about how you handled an embarrassing question someone asked you during the group? And if they said that you were way too defensive and didn’t seem to want to let them into your life, what would you think about that?

If we are teachable and want to make a difference in someone’s life, we will not set boundaries on what questions are legal and others that are way across the line. We will also give honest input to others about our life or theirs. But who makes these kinds of commitments? Anyone determined to follow Jesus without reservation enters into meaningful accountable relationships with others. Of course some issues need to be discussed in private, but if we are serious about discipleship we put it all on the table.

Jesus did not hesitate to explain the hypocrisy of some religious guys in Matthew 23:27; and there’s Paul’s explanation of a confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul also explained how he loved these people so much that he not only had a Bible study with them about the gospel, but he shared his life with them.

I remember a very painful time in my life in which I shared with several people what was going on and because of that, one person got with me the next week and told me that because I was honest with the group, he now felt he could tell me something about himself he had not told anyone else. What if I had a boundary that only allowed people so far into my life?

Do you have any boundaries that need to be erased?

A good turkish coffee

A good turkish coffee (Photo credit: Maria Rosaria Sannino/images and words)

You may have never thought much about jumping out of a plane of any kind, at any elevation or at any time, but we all have a need that for the most part is unmet throughout our lifetime. Adventure, expedition and intimate friendships are a part of the fabric essential for making sense out of life and church. 

Taking a trip with Jesus as the tour guide would have been electric. For him however, it was normal. Traveling to another country with others for a few days and sharing life, while trying to introduce Jesus into conversations over Turkish coffee in a street cafe is thrilling. But it pales in comparison to hanging with other Jesus followers at a local Java cafe and developing meaningful conversations with strangers or acquaintances. Working with other Christians to teach English to Iraqi refugees and having meals together in your apartment can be as significant as traveling 6000 miles from home to do it.

The point is that we need to do these kinds of things together as church and then life becomes something you set your alarm clock for so you don’t miss it. We need to ask ourselves if church for us contains this adventure and connection with others.

The brochure Jesus has used for years to recruit followers stirs something in us that can’t be found anywhere else. It simply says “Come…and you will see.” John 1:39

Let’s do it together.

"Look. I'm not going to discuss my privat...

“Look. I’m not going to discuss my private life with total strangers” (Photo credit: [Filhi][bahthi] photography ( with great hopes ))

You wake up during the night and wonder what that noise is you hear near the kitchen. You stumble down the stairs to find the entire floor covered in water that seems to be dripping from upstairs. You quickly realize there is a problem under the floor upstairs and water is leaking from somewhere. As soon as the sun is up, you call your physician and ask them to come take a look. Your spouse and kids look at you like-what the spank are you doing? “We’re floating in water, get the plumber out here” they say.

Sounds lame, but the way we carry out Jesus’ commands to make disciples and his vision, reveals we are using the wrong tools. We’re using the stethoscope rather than the wrench. How should we make disciples who make disciples in our generation?

A few thoughts-Mark 3:13, 14  We need to help people understand what it means to be with Jesus. He is not really interested in all the religious stuff we do , but is dying for us to just hang out with him. When was the last time you just spent time with Jesus without wanting him to do something for you? You just wanted to be with him.  We must help people develop a meaningful relationship with Jesus rather than getting them on the finance committee.

Acts 2:42-47  Our 2 hour event on Sunday morning and even the small group on Tuesday night are not coming close to what characterized the early church. They don’t demand anything, and certainly don’t reveal what we thought about last Friday night when we were alone. We must help people develop meaningful relationships with each other.

2 Timothy 3:10, 11  The only way Timothy could know these things about Paul was because he shared life with him. We must model what it means to share life together not just show up for events.

What does this have to say about how we do church?