From R. Andrew Chesnut over at the Huffington Post:
"Pope Francis is a Charismatic. Though I made the case for this in another HuffPost blog almost a year ago, the Argentine pontiff's penchant for Spirit-centered Catholicism has been one of the most underreported aspects of his dynamic papacy. Francis's spirited participation in the 37th Annual Convocation of the Charismaticmovements along with some 50,000 Catholics at Rome's Olympic Stadium leaves no doubt that he is the first ever Charismatic pope. Like their Pentecostal brethren who inspired the movement, Catholic Charismatics practice a pneumacentric form of Christianity centered on the transformative role of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Charismatic worship is a high-octane affair involving, upbeat music, dancing, speaking in tongues and even unsanctioned exorcisms on occasion.
While the Catholic Charismatic Renewal enjoyed papal endorsements from both of Francis's immediate predecessors, the Argentine pope became the first to attend an annual Charismatic convocation. Through both his actions and words, the Latin American pontiff wholeheartedly embraced the Renewal. Francis participated in the worship service in Charismatic style, kneeling in prayer, waving his hands in rhythm to the emotionally-charged songs of praise and in singing Charismatic hymns. Verbally, the dynamic pope called the Charismatic Renewal "a great force" for the Catholic Church, repeating the phrase that at first in Argentina he viewed them as a "samba school," a typically derogatory expression in his native country that conjures up the unrestrained exuberance of Brazilian carnival.
Even though no other lay movement has won such rapid endorsement from the Vatican in recent history, the Charismatic Renewal has been seen by many bishops across the globe as a potential threat to episcopal authority. Pope Francis echoed such concern in telling the crowd, "No one can say 'I'm the boss'. You, like the whole Church, you have only one head: the Lord Jesus! Repeat after me: Who is the head of the Renewal? The Lord Jesus!" And reflecting the long-standing Catholic liberationist view of the Charismatics in Latin America as middle class reactionaries, the pope urged them to focus their evangelization efforts on the poor.
So why the enthusiastic endorsement of a movement that for most of his tenure in Argentina he viewed as a noisy "samba school?" First and foremost, if Francis is the first Latin American pope, it's largely due to spectacular Catholic decline in the face of the meteoric growth of Pentecostalism. Uruguay and several Central American countries no longer are Catholic-majority nations in a region that was 99 percent Catholic until the 1950s. If current trends continue even Brazil, home to the largest Catholic population on earth, will no longer have a Catholic majority within a decade or so. Fellow cardinals obviously thought a Latin American pontiff might be able to reverse the dramatic decline in a region that is home to 42 percent of the world's Catholics.
Second, the Charismatic Renewal is by far the largest Catholic lay movement in the world and possesses unrivaled organizational skills and enthusiasm. For example, it was Brazilian Charismatics who almost singlehandedly planned, organized and managed the pope's visit to Rio for World Youth Day. Francis can only carry out his ambitious New Evangelization program with the leadership capacity, zeal and sheer numbers of the Charismatic Renewal. Indeed in Latin America the only significant Catholic evangelization efforts in recent history have been almost exclusively organized by Charismatics.
Third, ecumenism has been high on Francis's agenda, and he, somewhat curiously, views the Charismatic Renewal as a force for Christian unity. I say curiously because while Latin American Charismatics were ecumenically-minded during the first years of the movement in the early 1970s, they quickly morphed into the polar opposite, Catholic shock troops in the battle for Latin American souls against the "rapacious wolves" of Pentecostalism. Most of the anti-Pentecostal invective since the 1980s has been hurled by Charismatic theologians. Nevertheless, Francis perceives their pneumacentric Catholicism as a bridge to unity with Pentecostals and other Evangelicals and possibly even with the Orthodox churches with whom he recently took steps toward forging closer ties.
In short, after his spirited participation in their annual conference, Pope Francis is now a full-fledged member of the samba school of Charismatic Catholicism."
Recently my wife's grandparents came to visit us in Austin. We love them, and they have been a source of tremendous support and encouragent to my wife and I. We have had many deep discussion about the things of God, and how our lives intersect with the supernatural.
While driving in the car, I mentioned a book that I am re-reading about a movement that was characterized by their acceptance of the charasmatic gifts of the Spirit but also their faithful committment to the Scriptures. My grandfather, having previously been involved with this movement, and other movements like this, shared a very insightful remark:
Collin: "Grandad, I am reading ______ again. I've been challenged and encouraged to see God's movement among these guys....."
Grandad: "You know Collin, for a long time I was enamored with the gifts of the Spirit, and solely focused on them. Rightfully so, we should embrace, and yearn for those gifts to be present, but you know what the most important thing about the gifts are?
They tell us that He's here. In our midst. The Holy Spirit is here...."
He's here. The manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, the intercession of the Spirit, is clear witness and reminder, that He's here. He's among us. He's come to help us just like Jesus promised. So let's hold that in view as we strongly pursue His power, grace, and all that He offers us, for the church, and the world outside.
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ESV)
Tongues of fire? Working of miracles? Service? Mercy?
This will be a brief summary of how I personally try to grow in the gifts of the Spirit. I say “grow” with caution, because as I understand 1 Cor 12, and Heb 2:4 to say is that the Spirit is sovereign and distributes gifts as He wills. In that light, there’s an understanding that I can’t manipulate the Spirit, but there is also an appreciation that the Spirit is willing to give gifts for the edification of the body.
I didn’t grow up this way, thinking that the gifts of the Spirit are around today, or even good for us! I had the assumption that if there were “signs and wonders” it was demonic activity. I had a huge transformation that centered on the authority of Scripture and my experience as a believer. But that’s another story for another day.
***Gifts: charismata: “gifts of grace”. As mentioned in Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, and briefly mentioned in 1 Peter 4:10. I am not referring to the offices or roles in the church in Eph 4. Also this is not a post about the theology of the Spirit as a whole.
As I write this post I have two people in mind. People who operate in one of two ways when it comes to gifts(there are many other viewpoints, but I am specefically adressing these two):
One view is that of curious disenchantment. I say curious because these people’s curiosity is aroused when they hear teaching, or stories on the gifts of the Spirit;there is still a desire in their heart to see what Scripture describes in their own life. However, they are disenchanted because of their negative experience with churches who embrace a more charismatic approach to the gifts of the Spirit.
The other let’s call cautious benfactors. I say benefactors, because they have personally experience the edification and blessing from the gifts of the Spirit operating in their faith community. I say cautious because there is a timidity when it comes to practicing themselves.
I understand there are people in between and outside these two types. Plus there is so much grace for all of us as we pursue these good gifts of grace. I hope this post will be encouraging for all of us no matter where we find ourselves in relation to this topic.
The Orientation of my Heart
1)Towards the Spirit and His gifts: In 1 Cor. 14 and 12: Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to earnestly desire the gifts. I think at times since we are afraid to “desire the gifts over the giver” we diminish our desire for His gifts, thinking that by doing this, we are in fact, desiring the Giver more. I’m not convinced that the Spirit is honored by this. I believe that as I have an increased desire for the Spirit himself, that will enlarge my desire for His gracious gifts. How is your heart in relations to the gifts? Scared? Do you have the attitude that you don’t need the gifts, that the Bible is enough? The apostles didn’t preach this way.
2)Towards my place in the body: It’s important not to be jealous, but be thankful for the gifts God gives you, and the part you place in the body. A good reading for this, for me, is 1 Cor 12:12-26. That passage is broken up into two parts that are helpful for us, vs 12-20 is “how do I view myself”, and vs.20-26 is “how do I view others”. A repeated idea in all of chapter 12 is the idea of “variety”. We are all different.
3)Towards the edification of the body, common good for all: Paul tells us to earnestly desire the higher gifts in 12:31. This word in Greek actually means ,the best” more useful/more serviceable! How many of us have been abused by people you thought they had superior spirituality? How many people in the church have abused people with their gifts than built up? Paul’s point in this section is that the gifts are meant to build up the church, not create a hierarchy within the church.
Remember 1 Cor 12 and 14 are bookends to 1 Cor 13, the “love” chapter.
A Posture of Listening to the Spirit.
Honestly a lot of talk about the gifts of the Spirit and growing in them, is rooted in a posture of listening to Him.
This is takes time and attention. Sometimes it’s just me waiting on Him to direct, inspire me, in my living room. Other times it’s me asking Him what to say, who to pray for, in a situation.
This may be a stretch for some of you, but I ask God regularly to speak to me and my wife in our dreams. Many times He has and does.
Taking Risks, Exercising Faith
1)Exercise faith in walking in the gifts: acting out on the Spirit's leading. I don’t always bat 100%, and that’s ok. This is all a process in listening and being obedient to the Spirit. The results are God’s not our own. I would begin in prayer. Asking the Spirit is there is a word or encouragement that He would like to share with someone through you. If someone is sick, pray for them. This is all through the authority that has been given to us through Christ.
2)Study 1 Cor 12, Romans 12. Very practical. Gain a richer understanding of the Spirit’s gifts in these two texts. I would like to note that 1 Cor 12, in particular, is such a good reading for the community. As beginning in Cor 11, Paul begins to instruct on public worship times, so 1 Cor 12 falls into this context.
4)Create a servant framework for corporate worship.Iinstead if thinking "what am I going to get out of this" to "who can I give to today". Seriously, ask the Spirit on the way to church, who He might use you to bless/edify. I do this often, and have also been the beneficiary of this so many times.
5) Ask others who practice them, to affirm and shepherd you through the process.
A Posture of Listening to the Spirit.
Honestly a lot of talk about the gifts of the Spirit and growing in them, is rooted in a posture of listening to Him.
This may be a stretch for some of you, but I ask God regularly to speak to me and my wife in our dreams. Many times He has and does.
I want to make a quick note on the responsibility in all of this.
1) It's easy to go from word of knowledge, or discernment of spirits, to accuser and fault finder. There is a responsibility of grace as we practice these gifts as a community. The context for 1 Cor 12, is a bookend for 1 Cor 13(the love chapter). This must define all that we do. So be careful as you do encounter the power of the Spirit and His appropriation of His gifts in your life.
2) In all things we want an openness to the Sovereign will of the Spirit as explained in 1 Cor 12, and Heb 2:4. Both of these texts echo each other in proclaiming that the Spirit is the One who decides where and when He endowes us with gifts.There is no manipulation of the Spirit.
In all of this there is humility, because it is the Spirit who empowers us, for the good of everyone, and not for our self-glorification.
I have just described an invidual respons to the Spirit and His gifts. However, I want to encourage us to think together as a community in light of these things. The gifts are not just for the individual, but for the community. I've seen and experienced this edification, and how much of a grace it is for us as a church.
How as a community are you “fanning into flame the gift of God”? Are we as a community affirming, and shepherding people through this?
Also as an individual, don’t just look at your life as a witness of the activity of the Spirit look around at your community and the church world-wide, and be encouraged, for in fact, the Spirit is on the move!
Good books on this topic that I've read: 1 Cor as a whole. Gordon Fee's "Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God". Also Jackson's "Search for the Radical Middle: The Vineyard movement's story". Sam Storms "Journey of a Charismatic Calvanist.
These are all worth the time to read.
How do you grow in the gifts? What books have you read on the topic?
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
There is a religious practice in Taiwan where great people are defied when they die. In the most traditional practices patriarchs of the family are worshipped when they pass on. When I moved back to America from Taiwan I thought that I had left that sort of thing behind, but I was wrong. No we don’t make offerings to our leaders, or fathers, but in our hearts we do deify them don’t we?
How easy is it to deify our leaders. But how easy it becomes to demonize them as well.
Have you ever had these range of emotions? One day you meet with a leader you respect, they encourage you, they inspire you, and you leave feeling that you could “follow them wherever they go”. Now change scenes, to a time this certain leader sits you down, and begine to lovingly rebuke you. How do you feel now? As hard as you try to agree, and receive their rebuke, a small feeling of disrespect and criticism creeps in. Follow this story even further and you begin to over criticize them and under appreciate them!
This range of emotions usually stems from a disorder in our hearts. If we constantly feel this love/hate relationship with our leaders it is most likely because they hold too high of a place in our hearts. We place unrealistic expectations over them.
Throughout the NT there is a precedent set of our need to pray for our leaders(Acts 14:23, Eph 6:18-19, Heb 13:7, etc.). Jesus himself prays for his disciples, and includes all the church, leaders and lay alike, that we would be united as one(John 17).
Stems from Dis-belief:
-I don’t believe that Jesus is truly sufficient enough for my needs. Pastors or leaders become a sort of “golden calf” where I can point myself and others to and say “here is your god” who preaches to you, who comforts you, and who leads you. This is idolatry of the worst kind.
The shepherd is a vessel through whom the grace of God pours into my life and the life of the community. Their leadership is to be a reflection of Christ, and one of the most important things to remember is that, when that leadership fails, or the pastor makes mistakes, we truly need to understand this truth of the pastor’s humanity and Christ’s divinity. This will enable us to be gracious and loving towards our pastors , because we know our hope and our trust is in a divine Christ, who is the real divine Shepherd(1 Pet 5).
-I believe that if the leader/pastor was more like me, things would be better: We want to make leaders into our image rather than giving them grace, and praying that they be conformed and made into the image of Christ(Rom 8). It’s a pure desire for control. We want to lead, and we think we would do a better job. This is where it would be good to remember the divinity and power of Christ, because we must remember that He is actually the head of the church, He is the actualy Great Shepherd. Our needs don’t dictate the church, but His desire and will do.
The Corinthian Issue
You know Paul dealt with this same issue. In the Corinthian church the community was divided( greek word is actually “schism”), over their own leaders. They were “one upping” each other on who baptized them, or who brought them to faith. Some were saying I follow Appollos, I follow Cephas(Peter), I follow Paul, and so on. What this did was create a loyalty to men at the expense of loyalty to Christ. Paul rebukes them and makes this bold statement, “ Was Paul crucified for you??” That is such a strong but true statement that we need to hold in our minds as we think about our leaders. How many times have we placed our identity in the “circles we run with, or read” rather than in the perfect circle of the Trinity? Our Pastors can’t save you. They can’t be your Messiah. Stop idolizing your pastor and start believe and trusting in your Savior.
Practical Ways to Bless Your Leaders:
Althought a good foot washing, like our Mennonite brothers, might be in order, there are other ways to serve and bless our leaders.
-Throw a party for your leaders.
-Pray for them. Encourage them. They are your brother in Christ first, your Pastor second. So all the “one anothers” in Scripture apply to your Pastor just like your friend. Meditate on the Scriptures above, about the call from the New Testament to pray for our leaders/pastors.
-If you are mature in Christ, be a listening, non condemning ear, to their reflections and their struggles.
-Be their friend. So many pastor’s talk of loniless. Just be a friend. Don’t try to impress, or be super spiritual. Be yourself, and this will free up others to do the same.
I hope to encourage myself and others to have a spirit of grace for our leaders. This is a counter-cultural, and missional practice. Most of our culture blames the other. We display the truth of the Gospel when we don’t do this.
Questions: What are some other ways to bless our leaders?
Where do you struggle most with your leaders/pastors?
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—? Gal 3
It seems as though the apostles recognized the Spirit’s movement, affirmed the fruit, and pastorally addressed the people.
It was not that Paul wrote 1 Cor to primarily teach them about the ways of the Spirit, but to do so in response to what was already happening among them.
Even in Acts the running argument of the faith community was that “if the Spirit has poured himself out onto the communit of the Gentiles, what’s stopping us from accepting and baptizing them into the family of God?”
Throughout the N.T. there is a slight tension of the Spirit being a step ahead and then the leaders of the church praying and affirming and pastoring people in the midst of their experience.
Not to say that there wasn’t any concrete teaching on the person of the Spirit. There is, and we see Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John all doing that.
Disclaimer: My point here is not to argue for a teaching of the person of the Spirit, which is fundamental to everything Christian. Please hear everything I am saying in light of that.
The challenge that arises to us is to be able to hold the foundation of Scripture and yet be able to see beyond(beyond the experience of the NT, but not beyond the theological restraints of Scripture), and pastor people through the move of the Spirit in their lives.
It was Paul’s argument(1 Cor.10:11, 12:13) that it was the activity of the Spirit in our midst that showed us to be an eschtological community in the here and now. A forestaste of what’s to come. This is done, and seen, by not only what is popularly known as the “charismatic” gifts, but also seen primarily through the fruit of the Spirit(Gal 4).
Gifts of grace: Charisma, the word used for gifts in the NT means gift of grace. The gifts of the Spirit are His grace to us.
Here are a few ways I believe we can encourage and model for people in our community how to practically apply and pursure the gifts of the Spirit.
-Express and proclaim a robust theology of the gifts of the Spirit. Sam Storms, in his book, “Spiritual Journeys of a Charismatic Calvinist”,made a good point when he said, that some churches are “continuationist(gifts continued to present) in theology, but cessasionist(gifts ceased after early church) in practice.” The question then becomes how do we speak about the person of the Spirit and His gifts? Through vocal appreciation and embracing of the gifts of the Spirit, people would sense an atmosphere of openness to step out and practice the gifts of grace.
-Affirm and acknowledge when we see gifts being practiced. A lof of people in our community are exercising the gifts of the Spirit, and we should acknowledge and affirm when we see a gifting. Not only does this encourage the individual, but it also is an act of gratitude to the Spirit who is supplying the gift itself.
-Teach: In 2 of Paul’s longest letters(Romans and 1 Cor) he taught and instructed on the gifts of the Spirit(Rom 12, 1 Cor 12-14). We need to do pracitcal teaching on the gifts and pastor people through them. A rock solid foundation of the person of the Spirit pushes people to know Him, and love Him.
-Eximplify: We ourselves as leaders should ask for and pursue ,as Paul says in 1 Cor 14, to exercise the gifts ourselves. Here, there is a danger, to have unrealisitic and ungodly expectaions over ourselves, that since we are leaders in the church, we should operate in all of the gifts, and if we don’t, de-legitimize those gifts, only because we’ve never practiced them.
We must remember that the Spirit is sovereign, and Paul says He distributes gifts as he wills. Really important to remember this.
Finally, we want to understand that in all of these things, the goal is three fold:
1) the edification of the body(1 Cor 12/14)
2)the prophetic witness of the church in our culture and cities(the whole of 1 Cor).
3)the glory and name of Christ
How do you pastor yourself, and others to embrace the mystery of the person of the Spirit?
How do you practically teach others about the gifts, the person, and the corporate response to the Holy Spirit?
You’ve probably noticed lately, I’ve been writing on how these doctrines of faith apply to the everyday life of our work. I’m learning, just like the rest of us, how the grand doctrines of grace, connect, form, and transform my job. Much has been written on how they transform our hearts, ministry, and even family, but I don’t know how much has been written on how they pracically can come and invade our workplaces. These doctrines of grace don’t just live in our hearts, or in our churhces, but they exist and are active on the street corners, in the restaraunts, in our homes, and in our jobs.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to minimize the good news of Christ to these doctrines of grace. I understand that the good news of Christ as Messiah and King will be deeper and fuller than what I have written here, however these metaphors/doctrines will be helpful, and most are familiar with them.
The audacious sounding claim, is that through an act by a Jewish Messiah, humanity in Christ, has been put right before God. We have been “reconciled”, as Scripture would say. This claim not only says that we ,as people who have trusted in this Messiah, have been found “right” in the sight of God, but that even God’s disposition towards us is one of delight, even to the degree that He delights in His own Son, the Messiah. Is there any room for us to claim any credit in this process? Happily we say “No!”. There has been nothing done on our part to initiate or cause us to be reconciled before a Holy God. The claim sounds audacaious, too good to be true even. We live in a culture that operates contractually. 50-50. Fairness is the golden rule now. This claim flies in the face, and is “otherwordly” because it is made possible through grace.
We “ran up the bill” so to speak, and Christ “paid the tab” .
This is all possible through the act of the Christ. What was the act? A perfect life lived, a sacrificial death died, and a victorious resurrection. We, as enemies of God, traitors of the heavenly court, stand in opposition towards God. Christ comes on our behalf, ‘stands in our place’ , tell us, where we failed and put things out of order, He will overcome, and put into order. This Messiah went down into our valley’s of sorrow, overcame the temptaions of glory on the mountaintops, and broke the power of evil that stains this world. He literally became the “Wrathtaker”.Paul says he was offered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
We have the declaration from God, that in Christ, we are not only we have been “forgiven” but we are “invited” in to the Father’s arms, and His house. We are invited to the table of Christ, to eat, drink, and enjoy Him.
Consequence is usually viewed in a negative light. It really only means “the result of something” . The consequence of this declaration of God is that we are freed from listening to the declarations inside our own head that either justify or condemn us. We are freed from the works of our hands being used to define, justify, or condemn us.
We are no longer bound to be defined by our “circle of friends” but we are bound and defined, in love, in the circle of the Trinity.
A final word has been spoken, a declaration has gone out; we are right, loved, accepted, forgiven(not merely excused) in Christ. On the flip side, we are in no place to make justifying or condemning statements about others. It is Christ to condemn and justify.
-We are free to affirm others because we are secure in our affirmation from Christ.
-We are free to serve others because our justification is wrapped up in the servant Christ.
- The declaration to us in Christ from the Creator of the universe sustains us, and we don’t hang on every word or declaration from our employers.
-We can live under the umbrella of the declaration of Christ, when we the torrential rain of condemnation comes.
-We no longer swing from despair(not good enough) to pride(I’m too good), but fix our eyes on Christ, because of His goodness.
-Now are jobs are no longer empires we are building, but tools to live for Christ’s kingdom.
Be assured, Jusification means Christ for us.
Imagine with me.
When I first dreamed of missional communities and what they looked like, I had a grand dream in mind. The picture in my mind was one in where, week in and week out, God’s fire from heaven would come down onto our gathering because of how awesome our community was!!!
Then I actually experienced one. It was far less glamorous and romantic than what I first envisioned. These were normal people, normal conversations,sharing the joys and sorrows of life, and God’s grace; but much to my disappointment, no fire fell from heaven.
You might say I had unrealistic expectations. Which picture of community is better? Is it the romantic idea of a commune where personal identity ceases and gets swallowed up by the identity of the whole?
Or does it, and should it look like a normal, but supernatural, evening filled with, graphic designers, bankers, photographers, former orphans, drug addicts, and carpenters, sharing Christ and life together?
Community for the sake of community dies
“The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community, but the person who loves those around them will create community.” -Bonhoeffer
Seeing fruit from the commitment to the community and not just the community itself
I must say the missional community did not live up to my standards, and for that I am grateful. You know what has happened? It’s not that we are being changed by the idea of community in and of itselft, but we are starting to see fruit from the commitment we’ve made to the community. We’ve seen fruit in our lives from the commitment to live out all of the “one another’s” we see in Scripture.
So without commitment, you have no community.
We know this is true. Think about marriage, friendships, sports, all of those relationships depend on commitment. We see the benefits from the commitment we make to those individuals. The church is no different. In a culture that is adverse to commitment, we can offer a much greater picture of community, rooted in the commitment of Christ, and that commitment flowing through us to one another.
The good news is that we have been grafted into a better community because of a much greater commitment of Christ.
Right? Isn’t that the picture we have in Scripture? We are swallowed up by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, because He endured the cross, and set his “Face like flint” toward the cross.
I would ask us all, to lay down our grandiose visions of community, and pursure commitment toward each other, moved and transformed by the commitment we have seen and experienced in Christ.
Do we judge our communities too quickly? Is it because we really haven’t considered the idea of covenant and commitment to these brothers and sisters?
"Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."
Falsely accused. Betrayed by closest friends. Slapped in the face. Mocked in public. Killed.
Ever experienced any of these things? Maybe some, but not to the extent of Christ. Do you remember Jesus' response? Was it, backlash? Did He respond and go down the long list of sins, and mistakes of his accusers(you know he knew all of them)? Did He practice passive aggression? Did Jesus call His friends in, to help him plead His innocence? Wait, His friends had already bailed. In the heat of these events, what was Jesus' ultimate response? While hanging on a cross being put to death by His accusers, Jesus says this:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
It's unconceivbable that a person could respond this way, after being treated the way Jesus had been treated. Me or you can't even keep our tongues under control when we lose a game, or when we get cut off in traffic. We feel personally attacked, or someone has infringed upon our personal space.
Take our situations at work. Do you work with someone who constantly criticizes you? Who seems as if they absolutely do not want you to succeed? How do you respond? Do we allow our stories to be "swallowed up" by the story of Christ we have just seen? Or do we respond to our inner emotions, and hurt?
Consider: At our jobs and in the city, we are living for a greater reputation: the reputation of Christ. Therefore,
We can forsake our reputation for the sake of His
When we consider he who laid down His life for us(His enemies!), and soak in that truth, we can do the same for others. There's also a strong tie, to our reputation to our neighbors and co-workers and the reputation of Christ. As the church, we are the display of Christ's body to the world. At our job, we want to have a good repuation, not for own sakes, but because of the reputation and the image of Christ.
Do things for your neighbors/co-workers, where they would want to hang out with you more.
Be the kind of neighbor that gets invited back to parties.
Be the co-worker who serves rather, than steps on others.
Our reputation matters. Just not for the reasons we think it does. It matters for the sake of Christ. And we can hold loosely to our reputation, because we are tightly wrapped up in the person of Christ.
What's your reputation like at work? Are you the gossiper? Or the relationally distant, but "in your face" proselytizer? Do you compliment others when they succed and do well? Do you defer to others when they are more skilled in an area than you are?
By God's grace may He make us more like Christ, and may our reputations be great, for His sake, and not our own.
The more that we gaze on the face upon Christ, the less we desire to save our own.
Recently, before we moved to Austin, I had the opportunity to share with a buddy of mine at work all that God was doing and leading us to do here in Austin. I was able to share about the vision of our fellowship here at Austin City Life, and how we believe Christ has called our family to pastor and shepherd in the future.
After the move we were still keeping in touch through email, and when I told him I was enjoying working with the church, he asks this question in response:
"Oh that's great, are they nice?"
What a telling comment. Are they nice? This question says so much about his experience and many others experience's with the church. This question has haunted me, and caused me to cling on to the mercy and grace of Christ, that we would be the aroma of Christ to those around us.
What do you think about this guys comment?