Connected Or Not?

               In this age of insecure individualism fewer numbers of people want to commit to belonging to clubs, to a sales firm’s email records, to sweepstakes entry forms or even to churches.  I too hold back when asked for my phone number, my home address or my email address.  Privacy is a right we desire to control wherever possible.  Perhaps we have carried this too far.

               In the Old Testament we become familiar with God holding his people collectively responsible.  It is also true that even in this New Testament age some of the group identity carries over.  In Revelations Jesus remarks with praise or disapproval over the certain churches.  The individuals within those churches became judged or praised on the basis of the group’s behaviour.

               Our Biblical interpretations often are viewed with an individual perspective.  In the original text the “we” and the “you” was often written as “we – plural” or “you – plural”.  Our desire for anonymity and independence has put an individual twist on passages where community is the context.

               In moving to Edmonton I joined a CBWC church.  Due to schedule I am around less than half of its Sundays as I visit some of the other fifty-plus CBWC churches of our region.  It is a great privilege of mine, however, to come to church buildings and see God showing up in the worship of His people gathered.  It is powerful to see the larger extent of the church gathered.  I see from week to week a different group of people who are connected to those from my former week church setting, but these people do not know each other. 

               Granted an intimate knowledge of one another across the miles is impossible, but we are joined together.  That special union by our faith is precious beyond measure.  I find myself experiencing a deeper side of my Christian experience through connecting with the diverse people that make us “us”.  We are a “we – plural”, connected forever through Jesus.

               Positively or negatively we are tied to the spirituality and work of our clan.  So what about invitations to church business meetings, to assemblies, to ministerials, to baby showers, to prayer meetings, to faith centred small groups, or to youth group fundraisers?  Okay, in reality we cannot be everywhere or be at every event.  I am not interested in legalistic standards based on attendance to events.  However I do think the mature do care about the well-being of the Church as a whole.  The Apostle Paul carried the weight of the churches under his care.  His churches at the time were not perfect, and neither are churches today. I think those choosing to go deeper into this connected Body, called the Church, will not take lightly the union of ourselves with one another.  We embrace our connected collective with the flaws and ‘the works’ thrown in.  Whether foot, hand, eye or ear, we belong together.  I choose with gratitude to be connected with others of our tribe.  It is this particular group of “us” that helps my journey find meaning beyond just the “me”.

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Simchurch

Myopia or nearsightedness, according to Wikipedia, is “a condition of the eye where the light that comes in does not directly focus on the retina but in front of it. This causes the image that one sees when looking at a distant object to be out of focus, but in focus when looking at a close object.” 

My son as of this writing is somewhere close to Base Camp on Mount Everest.  He had Lasik surgery just a couple months ago and has been one of those statistical anomalies where all has not gone well.  His difficulties had put his hike to Base Camp in doubt for awhile and he has concerns about his future studies.  That being said, when we heard from him last he could enjoy the views and has even seen Everest … not a guarantee due to whether that settles in there.

Eye problems can be serious.  Life without vision would take some major readjustments. In our ministry worlds we can easily see those who live with their worldview twisted because of nearsightedness.  The focusing upon circumstances in terms of how they affect “me” is a disease among us.  Our efforts, pension plans, work aspirations, and desire for a comfortable style of living can take away from our focusing on the big picture.  What a shame if my son could only see close and never see the Himalayas around him from where he stands today.

I seldom play computer games, but a famous one for years has been some of the “Sim” games like Simcity and Simfarm.  In those games you build infrastructure while pressures come to bear that tear down what you have built.  You need to expand on one end of your turf while another section dissolves and disappears.  Perhaps ministry is like that.  Is the idea of a healthy church only myth?  Nurturing a church to continue ‘as is’ must be augmented by ever-expanding on new horizons.  If this is true, and I am on some levels hesitant to embrace the ‘Sim’ metaphor, then we need vision that extends beyond holding onto comfortable current states-of-being if it inhibits growth in new areas.

We know the Biblical truth, “Without vision the people perish.”  May God lead us though the current challenges to embrace His future for us!

Your co-worker,  Dennis