Vision, Part 5

I’m laying out my vision for our church across several posts. There are eight pieces to it. This is number five:

I envision growing believers studying the deep things of God together and living them faithfully.

“Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing. Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But just as it is written, ‘Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.‘ God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.‘” 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (NET)

People like to be “in”. During our formative school years most of us, at one time or another, wanted to be with the “in” crowd. We want to be “in” on the joke. Verizon Wireless capitalized on this when they created the “IN” calling plan.

I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think God has actually created a void inside us that feeds that desire. Solomon said,

“God has made everything fit beautifully in its appropriate time, but he has also placed ignorance in the human heart so that people cannot discover what God has ordained, from the beginning to the end of their lives.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NET)

The wording for this fifth part of my vision is that great little phrase in the passage above: the deep things of God. There are things about God that we can learn, but they are too deep to get if we are simply scratching the surface.

Think about it like a mining expedition. There are certain things that miners can get close to the surface. But the good stuff – the big ore veins – those are deep, hidden. They take hard work to find. Sometimes it takes years to find the mother lode, but when they do…!

I think learning about God is the same way. We work and pray and read and study and experience his grace and love – all the while getting closer and closer to the mother lode. And what is that? The deep things of God shown to us over time by the Spirit of God.

But you have to be “in”. An unbeliever will never get there. A believer who refuses to grow up – to mature in his or her faith – will never find it. It takes commitment and dedication – to our personal growth and to the others in our faith community.

My vision is one of believers who will work and study hard, growing each other’s hearts and minds and spirits, to find and experience the deep things of God.

I pray that according to the wealth of his glory
he may grant you to be strengthened with power
through his Spirit in the inner person,
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,
you may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19 (NET)

Continue to Part 6

Unattached

Do you feel “unattached” sometimes? With so many things vying for our attention and participation it is easy to get so overwhelmed that, even though we have a part with many events and people, we are not really attached to them in any meaningful way.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul makes the analogy that people in a church are like parts in a body. In order for a body part to have meaning and purpose it must be attached to the body. And, likewise, for a body to be healthy it needs attached, functioning parts. Without this mix a body suffers dis-ease and un-health. This is why we have a formal membership at OTCC – we want to know that we have healthy, functioning parts in our church body.

But apparently, not being attached to a body causes other problems as well. The Barna Group just released a report in which it describes some of the symptoms shown by people who are “unattached”, that is, they have not attended even one church service in the past year. These people are not attached in any way to a faith community. Here are the symptoms they found:

Compared to regular churchgoers, the Unattached are:

  • more likely to feel stressed out
  • less likely to be concerned about the moral condition of the nation
  • much less likely to believe that they are making a positive difference in the world
  • less optimistic about the future
  • far less likely to believe that the Bible is totally accurate in its principles
  • substantially more likely to believe that Satan and the Holy Spirit are symbolic figures, but are not real
  • more likely to believe that Jesus Christ sinned while He was on earth
  • much more likely to believe that the holy literature of the major faiths all teach the same principles even though they use different stories
  • less likely to believe that a person can be under demonic influence
  • more likely to describe their sociopolitical views as “mostly liberal” than “mostly conservative”
  • Do you know someone who is “unattached” to a body of Christ-followers? With Easter just around the corner, you have perfect opportunity to invite them to join you at your church’s Easter services.

    If you are in the South Bend, IN area, we are starting a brand new series on Easter Sunday called “Open House”. Not only will our doors be open to guests, but we are praying that their hearts will be open to Christ as well.

    Faithfulness

    I’ve been thinking about faithfulness this week. It’s our topic this Sunday morning in our series in which God calls us to “run to win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). There are so many areas in which God, through the Bibles, calls us to be faithful – home, work, country, friendships, ministry. The list goes on forever.

    If someone asked me to define “faithfulness” very briefly, I would have to say it’s simply showing up and doing your best. If we always show up and do our best – regardless of the situation or life arena – I believe God will consider us faithful.

    Each of us has areas that needs a faithfulness evaluation. Some people don’t even bother to show up (church, home, ministry, etc.), much less do their best. Don’t be that person! Make every second count for the Kingdom. Show up and do your best!

    On a related note: Mark Batterson, pastor of Washington D.C.’s National Community Church, had a great thought in his blog today about how we can and should relate to our culture. It’s well worth the short read, and the pattern keeps us faithful to God.

    Until next time,

    Dan’l

    The comments in this blog are always the personal opinions of Daniel Goepfrich and are not meant to be taken as official statements of Oak Tree Community Church, its staff, or its members.