Organic Community in Hebrews 10:25

I've recently been following an interesting discussion (here, here, and here) on organic church and community over at my friend Jeff Rhodes' blog: Chaordic Journey.

It all started with a couple of posts (here and here) on Hebrews 10:25 by Maggie (a.k.a. "Mudsy") over at Alternate Church. [UPDATE: Maggie has also since mused over the discussion thus-far with her article "Striking a Chord."]

Maggie said,

I began to study Hebrews 10:25 with passion. What first hit me was what it did not say:
  • It didn’t say be sure to go to church every Sunday
  • It didn’t say be sure that you gather in a specially designed building
  • It didn’t say be sure you join an institution
  • It didn’t say gather in one place around one primary leader
  • It didn’t say make sure you hear a 1-hour sermon every week (or a 40-minute one, or a 30-minute one)
  • It didn’t even say how often to meet.

Posted on Friday, July 25, 2008 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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Wounded in the House of Friends

What follows is an article written in the April 2001 issue of Virtue magazine by musician, writer, and theologian Michael Card. This article was introduced to me by John Piper. Enjoy.

One day Joseph, who was walking along one of these hot, dirty African roads, met someone who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. Then and there he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. The power of the Spirit began transforming his life; he was filled with such excitement and joy that the first thing he wanted to do was return to his own village and share that same Good News with the members of his local tribe.
Joseph began going from door-to-door, telling everyone he met about the Cross of Jesus and the salvation it offered, expecting to see their faces light up the way his had. To his amazement the villagers not only didn’t care, they became violent. The men of the village seized him and held him to the ground while the women beat him with strands of barbed wire. He was dragged from the village and left to die alone in the bush.
Joseph somehow managed to crawl to a waterhole, and there, after days of passing in and out of consciousness, found the strength to get up. He wondered about the hostile reception he had received from people he had known all his life. He decided he must have left something out or told the story of Jesus incorrectly. After rehearsing the message he had first heard, he decided to go back and share his faith once more.
Joseph limped into the circle of huts and began to proclaim Jesus. 'He died for you, so that you might find forgiveness and come to know the living God,' he pleaded. Again he was grabbed by the men of the village and held while the women beat him reopening wounds that had just begun to heal. Once more they dragged him unconscious from the village and left him to die.
To have survived the first beating was truly remarkable. To live through the second was a miracle. Again, days later, Joseph awoke in the wilderness, bruised, scarred—and determined to go back.
He returned to the small village and this time, they attacked him before he had a chance to open his mouth. As they flogged him for the third and probably the last time, he again spoke to them of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Before he passed out, the last thing he saw was that the women who were beating him began to weep.
This time he awoke in his own bed. The ones who had so severely beaten him were now trying to save his life and nurse him back to health. The entire village had come to Christ.
(Michael Card, "Wounded in the House of Friends," Virtue [March/April 1991], pp. 28-29, 69.)

There are some people in this world who will not turn to Christ until they witness a believer suffering—suffering without regret or malice, for the Gospel of our matchless Jesus. Our suffering for him is a parable of love that tells of the love of God for poor humanity, the "monsters of iniquity" that we are. So, don't waste your suffering.

And even when we don't suffer for the Gospel explicitly, our times of pain and trouble are the best opportunities we have in this life to show what Jesus means to us. That's when people will stand up and notice that we maintain patient, stability and even joy due to something that can only be called hope. It is then they will ask "of the hope that lies within us" (1 Peter 3:15). What hope is there to hope when you are full and clothed and comfortable and know exactly where the money for this month's rent will come from? You have no reason to hope for anything — at least, that's what the world thinks.

But when you're vomiting from the chemo or giving your mother's eulogy or being beaten for your faith, you have an amazing opportunity to show just how precious and valuable and sufficient Jesus is to you.

Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.
(Hebrews 10:32-35a)

Posted on Sunday, July 20, 2008 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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