One of the exciting things about being in seminary is that I have access to lots of books and ideas that I would not have otherwise ever pursued. As much as possible, I would like to share these thoughts with you. Today’s post us just such an occasion. Rediscovering Community by Daniel Overdorf is a great commentary on what the Bible says about the Church — what it was meant to be, what it stands for and what it represents in God’s plan. Check out what he says:
We risk disregarding our place in God’s grand story and inviting Him only into our smaller stories. While God’s story certainly manifests itself in the smaller stories of each congregation, these are but pieces of something much more grand.
Jesus didn’t die for YOU, so much as he died for Y’ALL
This is a touchy statement. But I believe it is true. He didn’t die for Stephen, or Melanie or eve, (gulp) Nick. When the Bible says he died for your sins, this your is almost universally plural. Jesus’ bride is his church. The body of Christ. He died to make his bride — the church — holy (Ephesians 5:25-7).
One of the most dangerous evolutions in the Church in recent decades/centuries is the rise of individualism. God’s purpose is not to make YOUR life make sense, but to make Y’ALL’s life a witness. The Bible tells a story of community. It tells a story of a nation, a people set apart for God. God’s heart is for his people, not his persons.
When we all stop worrying about ME
What is God’s will for ME?
What does God have in store for ME?
What is God doing in MY life?
As the quote above suggests, We are to see ourselves as part of God’s bigger narrative and part of Jesus’ larger body. Our passion should be for the rest of the body. It should concern us when we start to view every single thing that happens as some part of God’s plan for us (individually).This kind of thinking leads us to thinking that everything is “part of God’s plan for me, that God has a reason for everything that happens to me.” It leads to self-centered revolutions focusing on the Prayer of Jabez, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, Philippians 4:13, and on the list goes. It leads to athletes that preach an “If you’re a Christian, God will make your team WIN!” (A sentiment that more and more people believe). It leads to us making God out to be a mystical “lucky rabbit’s foot” of sorts, carrying him around in our back pocket to bring us luck.
God’s plan is BIGGER than YOU or ME. His purposes span all of history, not just this little slice of time that we call the present (James 4:14).
When Joseph was beaten by his brothers, sold into slavery, treated poorly and thrown in prison, it would have been only natural for him to say, “God has forgotten me.” Or to say, “What is God’s will for my life?”
While God’s promises to Abraham did not come to full fruition through the Joseph narrative, God sovereignly and significantly advanced toward the fulfillment of these promises through Joseph and his family. (Overdorf, 126)
God worked out his plan for Israel through Joseph’s little part of the story. Joseph never wavered in faith. He never claimed “God is testing me.” He never said, “God has a purpose for me.”
He just said God had a purpose.
God has a plan.
It could mean misery for some of us. It could mean riches for others. Suffering or riches might be the works of his hand. They might simply be allowed by him (if not caused). It might mean times of suffering or times of celebrating. But God has a purpose for his church, his people that is bigger than his purpose for any individual.
It’s time we let go of our own interests and trust him. He sees a bigger picture than we do.
Do you think the church is too individualistic?