Tuesday, November 16, 2004

until Christ is formed in us...

I just finished a case study on a church called Sojourn Community. Sojourn is located in the Highlands area of Louisville, Kentucky. It is an emergent church that is made up of less than traditional Christians. When I visited, there was only one couple over 35, and a vast majority were in their twenties. Very unusual for this boy who has been a member of traditional Southern Baptist churches since he became a believer. Candles, art, guitar being played as the pastor read the ENTIRE book of Colossians. I am not complaining, though. I loved the entire service.

Sojourn's vision is very simple: until Christ is formed in you...SOJOURN. It is based off of Galatians 4:19. It means that the community of believers that is Sojourn is on a journey through life until Christ is formed in them, that is at death, when their work is complete. I thought it was a cool statement when I first heard it, but as I really delved into the project and looked at and pondered over it, I really, really like it. We, as believers travel together until the end, when Christ is fully formed in us, and our character is perfectly like our Savior's.

I read the passage, and really looked at what Paul was saying. Let me quote the verse in it's entirety. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you--but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you. --Galatians 4:19-20

Paul is working; he is ministering. Why? Out of love, of course, but his goal is not love, but to see Christ formed in the live of the Galatian believers. He wants to see the believers living like freed men, not as slaves. He wants to see them living as if Christ has changed their lives, given them a new heart and a new mind. He wants to see them making right decisions, based not on their fleshly desires but upon the desires of the Spirit of God. That is his goal!

The thing is that Paul should not be alone in that work. We, as believers in a living Christ, need to be involved and accountable in each other's lives. We need to be ministering, edifying and encouraging each other. I know for me, it is so easy for my Christian relationships to be nothing more than friendships with a goal of hanging out.. "Chillin'" is great and fun, but we need to spur one another toward God and to edify each other. Our desire should be both hanging out and seeing Christ formed in each other.

Paul worked, sweated and prayed and while all of us are not called to vocational ministry such as pastors, music ministers, etc., each of us are a part of the Body. Each of us is a minister to other believers and a missionary to a lost world. It is a fact we cannot escape no matter how much we attempt to delude ourselves. We have been given the privilege of doing life together and helping to reconcile a lost world to God through Christ. We need to be working.

The English Standard Version puts it that Paul is having labor pains. I've never been pregnant and never will be pregnant, but I've seen enough episodes of ER to know that delivering a baby is work. What is the goal? Seeing a new life birthed. Our goal in in the Body? To see Christ birthed (salvation) and to see Him formed in another's life (growth in Christ/becoming like Christ).

This is what the body was designed for. Believers being involved in each others lives, encouraging each other, and building each other up for the purpose of seeing Christ formed in that life. So labor, work, fellowship with each other. Teach like you've never taught before. Speak truth regardless of circumstances. Share Christ with your friends, family and co-workers. Grow closer to Christ and know God better and better. Why? To see Christ formed in you and to see Christ formed in others.

Is it easy? Heck, no! My flesh doesn't want to talk about God sometimes, I admit it. There are so many times I just want to talk about surface things and never mention God. I just want to joke around and watch movies. I just want to...well, you get the picture. Those things are not bad in an of themselves. They are bad when that is all we as believers do. I confess I need to spur my friends on towards Godliness more and more. I confess I need to work and labor. It's easy to get frustrated, and our flesh is lazy, but...it's what the body of Christ was designed for.

Imagine a sweet, cherry red classic Mustang (the car, not the horse). The engine runs so smooth....the car is perfect. Imagine it just sitting in someone's front yard baking in the sun, never being driven or even started. A pity? An atrocity? The car was made to be driven and it is useless when it is sitting around.

The Body is the same thing in the same way. We were designed for the purpose of edification of the believer and the presentation of the Gospel to a lost world. When we do other things without doing those main things...a pity? An atrocity?

Work. Labor. Pray. Know God, Walk With God, Sojourn With Each Other. Do this to glorify God and to see Christ formed in yourself and others.

until Christ is formed in us...


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