Another installment in our weekly message from Father Al Durrance.
We do not often think much about the healing of a community, but the fact is that Christian Healing takes place in the context of a community. Healing takes place in a body of people committed to offering themselves a living sacrifice to Jesus Christ, that He might manifest His healing love through them in some particular circumstance where it is needed.
When we are sent to make disciples, we are sent to build up the Body of Christ in which we find our new life, and through which He intends to manifest His glory. It is not a matter of teaching people what to do or say. It is a matter of bringing them into a new relationship with the Head, who is able to transform them, and heal their diseases, as He equips them for ministry.
It is as we see our need and see Jesus’ love that we are able to make disciples. It is not a matter of simply teaching people a new philosophy of life. It is a matter of bringing them into a new reality called life. It forms a community with Jesus Christ as the Center.
THE NATURE OF THE COMMUNITY
A community is not an organization that is put together by people who think it is a nice idea. A community is a body that is drawn together to a common center of life that all seek to embrace. Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” Jn 12:32
Jesus stands at the center of the Christian community. We are not drawn to the community but to Him. When we are aware that we have needs we cannot meet, and He is able to meet the needs that we have, we are drawn into the common life that seeks His grace.
When we are willing to become His disciples, we find we must acknowledge our Sin and brokeness, and seek to support one another in seeking His life for each one who belongs to Him. Thus community is ordered from the Center, not organized from the outside.
When we seek Him we come to one accord. We come to see our absolute need, and His infinite love to meet that need. It was when the Church on Pentecost was in the same place, at the same time, in one accord that Holy Spirit came to bestow on them the power and authority to become Apostles. They were called to Jesus, equipped by Holy Spirit, and sent into the world as Jesus’ presence incarnate in our human flesh.
We will not always agree on how we are to express it, but we can all be united in our will to seek Him, to find Him, to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him. When we are united at the level of the will, His love is able to knit us together as a Body.
COMMUNITY IS OF THE KINGDOM NOT THE WORLD
Our initiative does not come from the world, but from God. We are to seek His will with the steadfastness we see in Jesus. Our direction does not come from the world’s wisdom, but the wisdom of the revelation of God. Our formation does not come from an effort to add people to a membership role, but to hold up Jesus Christ that He might draw them. Our healing does not come from adopting bylaws but by seeking with all our heart and soul and mind, to find His will and walk in radical obedience to Jesus Christ, the Head.
We learn to love with His love. We learn to forgive with His forgiveness. We learn to serve as His hands, His lips and tongue. We are transformed in the creative power of His love to become His presence for those to whom He sends us, and the community is made whole, not because we are dedicated to the community, but we are dedicated to Him.
We become the context for the manifestation of His healing love in our own lives and through us in the lives of the other members of the Body. As we seek and find healing, the Body is healed. As the Body is healed, the power of God’s love is manifested more perfectly through us.
We make disciples of those who acknowledge that they have need. The well have no need of a physician, but the sick. We do not bind burdens on their backs, we love them as they are, as Jesus loves us. We do not work for Jesus, we work with Jesus as He works through us.
Some Questions to Think About
1. Do the Scriptures make provision for individual Christians who are not identified with a community?
2. How does the community come into being? Are you willing to invite others into the part of the Body in which you live? (See tract on Witness)
3. What is a disciple? How do we make disciples? Whose disciples do we make?
4. How do we grow as disciples?
5. What is our relationship to the Body? to Jesus? to one another?
6. How do I find my place in the Body of Christ?
7. How do I help others find their place in the Body, and the wholeness Jesus seeks for them?
1. Discuss in the group the ease or difficulty of inviting someone else into the healing fellowship of the Body of Christ. How easy is it to talk about the difference between your life in Christ, and your life before you knew Him. Ask God to show you some person that He wants you to make His disciple. Witness to that person and invite them to participate in the Body with you.
2. As a group look at yourselves in the light of Jesus life in your midst. Does anyone live up to His standard? If not, we all fall short of His glory, and we all need to look for a way for us to become more completely His. If you are willing to risk the possibility of rejection, confess some fault of which you are aware in your own life and ask the people present to pray for your forgiveness and healing.
3. Discuss whether or not the group is putting God first or following a teaching, or an experience, or a doctrine of some other person. Seek together to ask God what He wants the group to do with Him. Share what you receive, and commit yourselves to work toward that which He has revealed to you.
4. Try a time of prayer and fasting seeking God’s will for yourself in the group and for the group as a Body. Share what you receive. Seek to listen for God’s voice through the others in the group. Seek to allow Holy Spirit to arrange the members of the Body for His use.
5. Pray daily for the Body in which you are a member that God’s will be revealed, received and obeyed by those who are a part of the Body.
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