Live orchestral music has a majesty. The conductor stands with his back to the audience, yet facing the orchestra. He leads the way pulling together the individuals to make a collective beautiful sound. Music that speaks to the heart.
Now imagine the conductor is also the greatest composer. That his music is the best the world has known. That being invited into the orchestra is the greatest privilege for each musician.
What a concert!
We are called to be part of that orchestra. The name of the orchestra is Church. The music is God’s calling, purpose and destiny for the Church. The audience is the world. The composer has some wonderful solo work as seen in creation and yet some of His greatest work is being played out before us right now.
But how is this Church a great orchestra? Surely it often sounds like we are just tuning up?
Outside of the performance in quiet rooms behind closed doors the composer/conductor spends time with each musician, honing their skill and teaching them how to express their heart in the music. When he brings them together their eyes are on Him, not the audience, and as they step into their identity, each playing their different instruments, expressing their heart, so the assembly comes together into a beautiful masterpiece. The composer will at times bring out individuals for solos, or duets or specific arrangements, but all the time he pulls together everyone into a collective whole. It is astounding, captivating and wonderful. The orchestra is seen by the world and when that orchestra come together, keeping their eyes on the conductor/composer, then the world begins to see how wonderful He is.
There is such a great ALIGNMENT in the orchestra it is as though they are one.
His back is to the audience, but the audience wants to see His face.
Members of the audience start to say, can I join the orchestra?
My wife and I have two children. They are twins. In the last week we took both to university. For the first time in 18 and a half years it is just me and my wife in the home.
It’s a big change. It’s heartrending. For all of us.
But it’s actually all good. There have been many surprise blessings and I share just two.
When my wife said goodbye to the both children she shed a few tears. She tried not to, but they came anyway. When she said goodbye to the last of them the tears flowed even more freely as we were going back to an empty home. I always felt the tears were good. There are so many mixed emotions but in the middle of it I felt I heard God say,
“The tears are a sign of a healthy heart.”
They spoke of all the years of love and care invested in our children. Our hopes and dreams for them mixed with the sadness of being disconnected for so long. Over the following days I felt something was missing within which I initially described as a void in my heart, but I later changed that to a “longing” or “yearning”.
My friend, Lampa, called me to ask how I was. And he suggested that the pastoral care of a church ought to cover this. I disagreed in that I didn’t think “formal” care was appropriate and that indeed we had already received “informal” pastoral care through the friendship and love shown by our friends. One friend left some chocolate – from the chocolate fairy! Another left flowers. And many others, including my friend Lampa, simply offered love and support. This was all the pastoral care we needed and more.
This thought follows on from here:
They say the best things in life are free.
They also say money can’t buy me love.
I want to suggest that money can’t buy you honour either.
The very act of “buying” honour – bribing others for accolades reeks of dis-honour. In our hearts we would know that it was fake.
To me giving honour is calling out the God-given virtues and calling (destiny) that we see in people, celebrating and encouraging it. Calling out our true identity in Christ.
I want to suggest that we can’t take love or honour from others. All we can do is give love or give honour. We can also receive the love and honour that may be given to us.
However, whilst we can’t take love and honour we can choose to be part of a community that actively seeks to give love and honour to one another. I would hope that our churches are like that. Our participation would not be to actively seek that love and honour but rather to give it out. If all are doing that then I am sure that much of that love and honour from others would come our way – but that would not be our motivation.
Having said that I don’t think it is possible for us to give love and honour unless we are loved and honoured first. We would run dry.
Thankfully there is One who can and does give out love and honour without receiving it first. Our God. We can see this in the very act of sending Jesus Christ to be crucified. This demonstrates His love but when we respond and can then be called sons of God we have effectively been made royalty. What greater honour is there?
What can we do in response but to love and honour our Father in heaven, His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
Let us also be a people who actively seek to love and honour those God brings our way.
My friend Lampa reminded me today of my vision for church. That the individual church families we go to become more and more intertwined with other church families*.
*I see our local church as our church family.
A friend of his has become disillusioned with his own church – that somehow many within the congregation seemed to lack authenticity. My friend Lampa is one of the most authentic people I know and indeed it is during the last two years walking a very difficult path with my friend that I was inspired to the thoughts written here:
Lampa’s friend asked him if he would meet with him once a week to go through the bible because he is an authentic person. Given Lampa did not want to dishonour the church his friend attends he agreed but said let’s go through the same study as the church.
When Lampa told me he said he was beginning to take on my vision of a better interconnected church.
The vision is that we (the members of any local church) work at building relationships both within our local church family but also with those in different church families (as well as those not in any church family!). The more of us that do it, the more relationships there will be. In doing so we will begin to see the respective strengths and weaknesses in our different churches and then collectively find ways to help out one another – in all sort of different ways.
This is the church without boundaries.
The Gospel can only be properly understood as good news when we understand just how terrible the bad news of separation from God is. It is not about who goes to heaven or hell. It is about the reality of reconciliation with God made possible through Jesus Christ.
Today’s ODB pointed me to:
The Insight section says:
Luke records the coming of the Holy Spirit in wonderfully descriptive language. For the disciples, the entire three years of walking with Jesus would have been astounding, but the last two months prior to the day of Pentecost would have been especially intense: the trial, the crucifixion, hiding in fear, the resurrection, the ascension. And it all led to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel. Luke doesn’t record the reactions of the disciples, but imagine being in their sandals. As you are together with your closest friends, you hear the sound of wind—inside the house! What appears to be fire descends on you. Even with everything you have seen, the temptation to flinch would have been great. God’s presence was both terrifying and empowering. But it’s this fire that sparks the first gospel message, the message of salvation in Jesus.
Love Revelation: “I will pour out …..”. The very act of prophesying will be to give revelation.
God’s identity: He is the ultimate authority and source of revelation (life). He does what He says He will do, “I will …..” He also a God of signs and wonders – demonstrating wonders in the heavens above and signs on earth. There is a glorious day to come.
Our Identity: Note Peter’s identity – He has authority but he really wants people to engage (connect) – “Listen carefully.” This is also preaching (not teaching). For us: God’s Spirit will be poured out and it is expected that we will all prophesy – not some, all. What do we expect? What do we aspire to? Finally, if we have called on the name of the Lord – then part of our identity is – saved!
Security and Authority – Peter is totally secure in what he says. He has great confidence that clearly comes from the covering of the Holy Spirit.
Posture/Church – Clearly the covering of the Holy Spirit (resting on and working through us) is important. We should seek to be a prophetic people.
For further exploration: What is the difference between preaching and teaching – I believe Peter is preaching here.
So much wealth and treasure from ODB on August 26.
From the passage:
Before we get to the meat of this I do wonder if the James referred to is the same James that wrote the book of James – Jesus’ physical brother. What is his role in sending the men referred to? One for more research later.
It is Paul’s passion for the gospel (defending salvation through faith in Jesus Christ) that drives his actions here. He also targets Peter and we have seen before how Peter does actually take correction – see the comments from the ODB writers.
The comments from the ODB writer about not freezing people in the time of their worst moments are important. It reminded me of this:
An enemy, sin and the world – beware the lies and traps of the world. Using fear and our lack of confidence in what we really know to build groups of religious people that twist the meaning of the gospel.
Security and Authority – related to the above, whose voice do we listen? Who do we trust? Do we have relationships that keep us accountable?
Posture (Learning to walk a different way) –
The observations by the writers of ODB are important. “Paul’s confrontation of Peter was rooted on the foundation of the truth of the gospel. Paul chose to confront not because of personal dislike but out of love for the gospel. ” … “Paul confronted, not to shame Peter but to restore the integrity of the faith community.”
In addition, Paul was confident in his understanding (and what had been revealed) of the Gospel. Studying, applying and walking the gospel into our lives is essential.
Purpose – Paul’s passion for furthering the Gospel and building the church on firm foundations are his primary motivator.
Church – There are times when we need to confront for the sake of the church – but we need to be sure of our motivation and the facts.
The brain dump – Research the role of James!
This could have just been Vulnerability, or The Importance of Vulnerability. A big theme going forward is going to be bringing down the walls of fear and unforgiveness. Bringing down the walls we put up to protect ourselves from others. The same walls which separate us from others. Unity requires it. When the walls are down we are vulnerable. However, we can instead put on heavenly garments (Col 3:12) and the armour of God (Eph 6:10-17)
Their example is their lead.
This may not seem revolutionary! But it is key way to distinguish leadership from management or administration.
We need Leaders. Those who lead, need to lead. Their example will be their leadership. Not so much what they say, but what they do.