The Importance of Intentional Christian Community
Last Updated 10/20/2004
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Necessity of Community
Effects of Sin on Community
Community as a Culture
Community Relationships
Primacy of Love
Need for Simplicity
Evangelism Through Communiy
Holiness and Consecration
Community and Commitment
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Quotes on the Necessity of Community

"Our membership in the church is a corollary of our faith in Christ. We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family. It is part of the fabric of redemption."


Eugene Peterson
A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1980), p. 169

~~~~~


"Theology is for Paul never merely a speculative exercise; it is always a tool for constructing community"


Richard Hays
The Moral Vision of the New Testament
(
Harper Collins, New York, 1996) p. 18

~~~~~

"It is easier to draw a crowd than to grow a family"

Source unkown

~~~~~

"Their community life [the Christians of the first centuries], though far from perfect . . . was nevertheless sufficiently different and impressive to attract notice, to invite curiosity, and to inspire discipleship in an age that was as pleasure-conscious, as materialistic and as devoid of serious purpose as our own. Paganism saw in Early Christianity a quality of living, and supremely of dying, which could not be found elsewhere."

Evangelism in the Early Church, Michael Green,
(Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1991) p. 275

~~~~~

"Living together in one place is safer than living alone. The sacred words of Jesus our God bear witness to the necessity of living together; for He says, 'Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am in the midst of themı (Matt 18:20). Likewise Solomon speaks about the danger of living alone when he says, 'Alas for him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him upı (Eccles. 4:10).

And David calls those who praise God in love and concord blessed when he says, 'Blessed is the people that sing aloud togetherı (Ps. 89:15), and he commends life in community, saying, 'Beyond, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell togetherı (Ps. 133:1).

And among the disciples of our Lord there was but a single soul and a single heart (cf. Acts 4:32), ; and even God's incarnation did not take place in the wilderness, but in inhabited areas and among sinful men. Thus we have need of the concord of the communal life. Isolation is treacherous and full of danger."

Nikitas Stithatos, Philokalia, Vol. 4 (Faber)

~~~~~

"The Lord does not want us to live in the world and go to church, but to live in the church and go to the world."

Peter Williamson,
"Peoplehood: A New Model for the Church."
Pastoral Renewal , July/ Augusts 1988

~~~~~

"Life in community is no less than a necessity for us - it is an inescapable 'must' that determines everything we do and think. Yet it is not our good intentions or efforts that have been decisive in our choosing this way of life.

Rather, we have been overwhelmed by a certainty - a certainty that has its origin and power in the Source of everything that exists. We acknowledge God as this Source. We must live in community because all life created by God exists in a communal order and works toward community."

Excerpted from Why We Live in Community
by Eberhard Arnold, 1925

~~~~~

"The soul that is alone. . .is like the burning coal that is alone. It will grow colder rather than hotter."

St. John of the Cross

~~~~~

"Modern people usually seek individuality through the severance of restraints and commitments. I've got to be me. I must be true to myself. The more we can be free of parents, children, spouses, duties, the more free we will be to 'be ourselves,' to go with the flow, to lay hold of new and exciting possibilities. So goes the conventional argument.

Yet what if our true selves are made from the materials of our communal life? Where is there some 'self' which has not been communally created. By cutting back our attachments and commitments, the self shrinks rather than grows. So an important gift the church gives us is a far richer range of options, commitments, duties, and troubles than we would have if left to our own devices.

Without Jesus, Peter might have been a good fisherman, perhaps even a very good one. But he would never have gotten anywhere, would never have learned what a coward he really was, what a confused, then confessing, courageous person he was, even a good preacher (Acts 2) when he needed to be.

Peter stands out as a true individual, or better, a true character, not because he had become 'free' or 'his own,' but because he had become attached to the Messiah and messianic community, which enabled him to lay hold of his life, to make so much more of his life than if he had been left to his own devices."

Stanley Hauerwas, William H. Willimon,
Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony
(Abingdon Press, Nashiville, 189), p. 64, 65

~~~~~

"There are two things we cannot do alone. One is to be married and the other is to be a Christian."

Paul Tournier

~~~~~

"Alasdair MacIntyre, the philosopher and ethicist, also suggests that we have reached a 'turning point' comparable to what happened in Rome and that today, amidst the moral disintegration of our society, we should begin 'the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages that are already upon us.' "

David F. Wells, Losing Our Virtue:
Why the Church Must Recover Its Moral Vision,
Eerdman's Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI,
Cambridge, U.K., 1998, p. 9
citing, Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue:
A Study in Moral Theory
(Nortre Dame: University of
Nortre Dame Press, 1981), p. 245

~~~~~

"If you want to know what is meant by 'God's will' in man's life, this is one way to get a good idea of it. 'God's will' is certainly found in anything that is required of us in order that we may be united with one another in love."

New Seed of Contemplation, Thomas Merton
(New Directions, Abbey of Gethsemeni, 1961), p.76

~~~~~

"One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.

Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
(New York, Harper and Row, 1954), p. 78

~~~~~

"Seek daily the presence of the people dedicated to God so that you are refreshed with their words"

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (circa 100 AD)

~~~~~

"Toil together, fight, run, suffer, rest, and rise up together as God's stewards, companions of His table, and his servants!"

Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp,
(Before the year of AD 120)

~~~~~

Quotes on Community as a Culture


"The church most effectively engages the wider culture, not when it strives to be more like it in order to gain a hearing, but when it strives to be responsive to Godıs calling for it to be a sign, a foretaste, and a herald of Godıs work in the world. We offer unbelievers little, except perhaps more and better reasons to persist in their unbelief, when they see little that distinguishes the people of God from the rest of the world. As we have seen, for Paul the gospel bound believers to one another as well as to God.

Šunion in the Spirit involved union with one another, for the Spirit was primarily a shared, not individual, experience. (2 Cor 13:14; Phil 2:1; Eph 4:3) The gospel is not a purely personal matter. It has a social dimension. It s a communal affair. To embrace the gospel, then, is to enter into community. A person cannot have one without the other."


Banks, Robert.
Paulıs Idea of Community.
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994, p. 26.

~~~~~
It seems easier for a church to build a multimillion-dollar family life center than to be a Christian family.


Kenneson, Philip D. and Street, James L.
Selling Out the Church
Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press
.(1997)

~~~~~
"The ferocity of the current assault on the legacy of Christian culture, however, has brought a new clarity of vision. The alternatives are set before us with unusual starkness: either there will be a genuine renewal of Christian culture - there is no serious alternative - or we will be enveloped by the darkness of paganism in which the worship of the true God is abandoned and forgotten."


Wilken, Robert L.
Remembering the Christian Past.
Eerdmans Publishing. Grand Rapids, MI: (1995)

~~~~~

"The early church could easily have escaped Roman persecution by suing for status as a cultus privates, or "private cult" dedicated to "the pursuit of a purely personal and otherworldly salvation for its members," like many other religious groups in that world.

Yet instead of adopting the language of the privatized mystery religions, the church confronted Caesar, not exactly on his own terms but with his own terms. As Wayne Meeks [historian] summarizes the matter, early Christian moral practices . . .

' are essentially communal. Even those practices that are urged upon individuals in the privacy of their homes. . . are extensions of the community's practice — indeed they are means of reminding individuals even when alone that they are not merely devotees of the Christian's God, they are members of Christ's body, the people of God.

That was how the Christian movement differed most visibly from the other cults that fit more easily into the normal expectations of "religion" in the Roman world. The Christian's practices were not confined to sacred occasions and sacred locations –shrines, sacrifices, processions—but were integral to the formation of communities with a distinctive self-awareness.'

"The original Christians, in short, were about creating and sustaining a unique culture—a way of life that would shape character in the image of their God. And they were determined to be a culture, a quite public and political culture, even if it killed them and their children."

Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People:
The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society,
(IVP, Downers Grove, IL., 1996), p. 81, 82,
citing, in part, Wayne Meeks,
Origins of Christian Morality p. 110

~~~~~

"Unless there is a transformation of contemporary church life so that once again the task of evangelism Is something which is seen as incumbent on every baptized Christian, and is backed up by a quality of living which outshines the best that unbelief can muster, we are unlikely to make much headway through techniques of evangelism. . . . And men will continue to believe that the Church is an introverted society composed of 'respectable' people and bent on its own preservation until they see in Church groupings and individual Christians the caring, the joy, the fellowship, the self-sacrifice and the openness which marked the early Church at its best ."

Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church,
(Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1991) p. 275

~~~~~

"Ask about the local church's role in the world, and most Christians immediately begin hauling out mission statements, actions plans, and strategy schemes. They are already lacing up their Nikes, asking, "What should we do?" That eagerness is wonderful, [but] we need the Big-picture view of the body, alive and vibrant—the holy, presence in the world.

For the church's role in the world is not a series of independent items on an action checklist. Instead, the church's role (what it does) is dependent on its character (what it is) as a community of believers. What we do, therefore, flows from who we are.

This character oriented perspective is totally foreign to our achievement-oriented society, however, where we look at what people do rather than who they are. And it goes against everything in our consumer oriented religious culture, where we pick and choose churches on the basis of fellowship [personal clique's] or outreach programs or music or location or convenient parking.

Rarely do we hear believers say, "I decided to join this church because of its character as a holy community." Nor do most choose a church on the basis of it capacity to disciple and equip them for ministry.

Yet that should be our very first consideration. If the church is the body, the holy presence of Christ in the world, its most fundamental task is to build communities of holy character." [Author's italics throughout]

Excerpted , from Charles Colson's, The Body

~~~~~

". . . it remains a truism that God's reputation in society is determined by the health of the Church and the extent the church achieves the spiritual goals he has set for it."

Daniel Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24
(Eerdmans' Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1997), p. 59

~~~~~

Quotes on Evangelism Through Community


"Evangelism is not the biggest challenge of the Church, the state of the Church is the biggest challenge to evangelism."

Source Unknown

~~~~~

"The light of the early church illuminated the path of humankind in only one short flash. Yet its spirit and witness stayed alive even after its members had been scattered and many of them murdered. Again and again through history, similar forms arose as gifts of God, expressions of the same living Spirit. Witnesses were killed, and fathers died, but new children were - and are - born to the Spirit again and again. Communities pass away. But the church that creates them remains.

We must live in community because the spirit of joy and love gives us such an urge to reach out to others that we wish to be united with them for all time."

Excerpted from Why we live in Community,
by Eberhard Arnold, 1925, (c) 1995
by the Plough Publishing House,
The Bruderhof Foundation, Farmington, PA

~~~~~

"Unless there is a transformation of contemporary church life so that once again the task of evangelism Is something which is seen as incumbent on every baptized Christian, and is backed up by a quality of living which outshines the best that unbelief can muster, we are unlikely to make much headway through techniques of evangelism. . . .

And men will continue to believe that the Church is an introverted society composed of 'respectable' people and bent on its own preservation until they see in Church groupings and individual Christians the caring, the joy, the fellowship, the self-sacrifice and the openness which marked the early Church at its best ."

Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church,
(Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1991) p. 275

~~~~~

"No one will come to know Christianity's particular God, or will want to know that God, without the vital and promising life-witness of the community called church.

For if we expect the Christian story to bear any persuasive potency, then 'at the very least, that story must have the power to take hold of our life and sustain it, and even possibly transform it. . .

And if those who espouse a particular master story nevertheless show themselves unwilling or unable to follow it. . .with fidelity, why should anybody else take their story seriously?' "

Rodney Capp, A Peculiar People:
The Church in a Post-Christian Society
(IVP, Downers grove, Ill., 1996, p. 183,
citing Michael Goldberg,
Jews and Christians, Getting Our Stories Straight
(Nashville: Abingdon , 1985), p. 222

~~~~~

" 'Modern' people have been told in many ways that happiness comes with a private agenda – my own choice of career, my own music, my own friends, my own lifestyle, independent of what parents, church and hometown friends think.

Then we wonder why we are lonely, why we feel emotional distance from other people."

Bruce and Marshall Shelley,
Can Evangelicals Win the World
Without Losing their Souls?:
The Consumer Church
(Inter Varsity Press, Downer's Grove, 1992) p. 76

~~~~~

"Look", they say, "how they love each other" (for they hate each other). "See, how ready they are to die for one another" (For they would sooner kill each other)."

Tertullian, Apology 39, 40, AD 198

~~~~~

"Ask about the local church's role in the world, and most Christians immediately begin hauling out mission statements, actions plans, and strategy schemes. They are already lacing up their Nikes, asking, "What should we do?"

That eagerness is wonderful, [but] we need the Big-picture view of the body, alive and vibrant—the holy, presence in the world. For the church's role in the world is not a series of independent items on an action checklist.

Instead, the church's role (what it does) is dependent on its character (what it is) as a community of believers. What we do, therefore, flows from who we are.

This character oriented perspective is totally foreign to our achievement-oriented society however, where we look at what people do rather than who they are.

And it goes against everything in our consumer oriented religious culture, where we pick and choose churches on the basis of fellowship [personal clique's] or outreach programs or music or location or convenient parking.

Rarely do we hear believers say, "I decided to join this church because of its character as a holy community." Nor do most choose a church on the basis of its capacity to disciple and equip them for ministry.

Yet that should be our very first consideration. If the church is the body, the holy presence of Christ in the world, its most fundamental task is to build communities of holy character." [Author's italics throughout]

Excerpted , from Charles Colson's, The Body

~~~~~

"Their community life [the Christians of the first centuries], though far from perfect . . . was nevertheless sufficiently different and impressive to attract notice, to invite curiosity, and to inspire discipleship in an age that was as pleasure-conscious, as materialistic and as devoid of serious purpose as our own.

Paganism saw in Early Christianity a quality of living, and supremely of dying, which could not be found elsewhere."

Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church,
(Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1991) p. 275

~~~~~

Quotes on the Primacy of Love


"If you want to know what is meant by 'God's will' in man's life, this is one way to get a good idea of it. 'God's will' is certainly found in anything that is required of us in order that we may be united with one another in love."

New Seed of Contemplation, Thomas Merton
(New Directions, Abbey of Gethsemeni, 1961), p.76

~~~~~

"...When told that his mother and his brothers are outside (Mark 3:31-35), Jesus replied: "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sisters, and mother."

In the place of blood relationship, and surpassing it, is set spiritual relationship. For Jesus, brothers are those who are united with him in the common acceptance of the will of God.

The difference from the ideology of the enlightenment and the general brotherhood of the Stoics is obvious: brotherhood is not seen naturalistically, as an original phenomenon of nature, but depends on a decision of the spirit, a saying "yes" to the will of God."

"...It is Mark 10:29, where Jesus promises to him who leaves his brothers, sisters, father, mother, children, or lands for his sake and in order to preach the gospel, the return of all he had left even in this life, even though there would be persecutions as well.

It is surely true to say that the new and greater family that is here promised to the missionary is composed of the members of the Christian communities looked after by him.

This is, in fact, the same idea as before, only more strongly influenced by the idea of an already existent Christian community. It follows that the community of will with the Father is conceived more concretely, too, as acceptance of the Christian faith "

Excerpted from Christian Brotherhood,
by Joseph Ratzinger, 1966

~~~~~

"Jesus calls His followers to love, to love one another as He loves them; not just to love others as one loves oneself. He proposes something new; to love others with the very love of God; to see them with the eyes of the Lord."

Community and Growth, Jean Vanier
(Paulist Press, 1989, New York), p. 31

~~~~~

"Love, of course, means something much more than mere sentiment, much more than token favors and perfunctory almsdeeds. Love means an interior and spiritual identification with one's brother, so that he is not regarded as an "object" to "which" one "does good."

The fact is that good done to another as to an object is of little or no spiritual value. Love takes one's neighbor as one's other self, and loves him with. . .immense humility and discretion and reserve and reverence. . . From such love all authoritarian brutality, all exploitation, domineering and condescension must necessarily be absent.

. . . Love demands a complete inner transformation - for without this we cannot possibly come to identify ourselves with our brother. We have to become, in some sense, the person we love."

The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton
(New Directions, 1960) pp. 17, 18

~~~~~

". . .the Lord does not look so much at the magnitude of anything we do as at the love with which we do it. If we accomplish what we can [now], His Majesty will see to it that we become able to do more each day."

Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle

~~~~~

"When the blessed evangelist John, the apostle, had lived in Ephesus into his extreme old age and could hardly be carried to the meetings of the church by the disciples, and when in speaking he could no longer put together many words, he would not say anything else in the meetings but this: "Little children, love one another!"

When at last the disciples and brothers present got tired of hearing the same thing again and again, they said, "Master, why do you keep saying the same thing?" John replied with a saying worthy of him: "Because it is the Lord's command, and it is enough if it is really done"

Jerome, Commentary on Galatians 6:10 AD 387-388

~~~~~

"A man possesses the Holy Spirit to the extent of his love for Chirst's Church."

(Augustine); Optatam totius, no. 9.
Fire Within, p. 32

~~~~~

"He [Jesus] told us. . . that you can tell whether a story is true by the lives of the people who tell it [italics are the author's].
You judge a story by its teller. You will know them by their fruit, he said. A good tree bears good fruit, a bad one, bad fruit (Mt. 7:15-20).

If the people telling a story love each other and live together with depth and grace, then their story is true. If they don't, then their story is silliness – or worse.

A good story enables people to lay down their lives for each other and become one. To put it in Jesus' own words, ' I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (He died for them remember.)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another' (Jn 13:34-35). A few chapters later he prays that his followers ' may all be one . . .so that the world may believe that you have sent me' (Jn 17:21).

A story is authenticated when the people who believe it go to the Cross for each other."

John Alexander, The Secular Squeeze,
(InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill.), pps. 114, 115

~~~~~

"Look", they say, "how they love each other" (for they hate each other). "See, how ready they are to die for one another" (For they would sooner kill each other)."

Tertullian, Apology 39, 40, AD 198

~~~~~

"The fulfillment of the Lord's design for his people to be a special treasure, a royal priesthood, a holy nation is contingent on 'keeping his covenant and obeying his voice.' Nothing has changed in the New Testament.

The supreme test of righteousness is still, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . and your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39, cf. Deut. 6:5. Lev. 19:18).

As a summary of the Decalogue [Ten Commandments] Jesus' call for 'love' is a call for covenant commitment, first to God, then to one's fellow human beings."

Daniel Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24
(Eerdmans' Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1997), p. 714

~~~~~

"It remains, as in the time now past, that the greatest is the free gift of brotherly love, which is more glorious than knowledge, more marvelous than prophecy, and more sublime than all other gifts of grace."

Irenaeus, IV. 33. 1, 8 [p. 43- Early Christians]

~~~~~

Quotes on the Effects of Sin on Community


"In confession the break-through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
(New York, Harper and Row, 1954), p. 78

~~~~~

Quotes on Community Relationships


"Through relationships the church can restore spiritual vision and a sense of goal. Not only do we need to value their importance; it is very obvious that we need to rediscover how to have godly relationships.

Deep caring relationships are one of the sacrifices that our society, and the church, has made in its sprint toward self-gratification and self-fulfillment. Godly relationships involving spiritual growth are not easy.

All around us friendships, marriages, and households, are falling apart because people don't want to do the hard work of building right and strong relationships."

Uniting Church and Home, Eric Wallace,
(Hazard Communications, Round Hill, VA, 1999), p. 156

~~~~~

"The point is that movement moves forward on relationships. It is a function of networks, not of organizational effort. We too easily get wrapped up in organizational issues rather than personal relationships. Any organizational effort should be geared to facilitate loving God and others in a deepening relational community [italics are the authors' ].

Instead, organization often inhibits this core function. What is important to Jesus in this statement is God's expectation for right relationships, not right programs. . . The importance of this fact cannot be overemphasized.

If the two greatest commandments have to do with relationships, and if we want to rebuild a ruined church, then we should pour our greatest efforts into nurturing relationship between believer and believer, and between believer and God. "

The Church in Ruins: Foundations for the Future,
Dr. William Crabb, Jeff Jernigan
(Nav Press, Colorado Springs, 1991) pp. 86,87

~~~~~

Quotes on Community and Commitment


"'Make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.' Matthew is not interested merely in soliciting converts; the gospel, according to Matthew, summons people to join a disciplined community of Jesus' followers who put his teachings into practice.

There can be no question here of a purely individualized spiritual formation. Matthew is strongly ecclesially oriented.

One cannot follow Jesus, according to Matthew, except by becoming part of the community that he trained to carry out his mission in the world.

the church is a demonstration plot in which God's will can be exhibited. For that reason, the righteousness of Jesus' disciples must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees; otherwise, the church wiil not be a compelling paradigm of the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed."


Richard Hays
The Moral Vision of the New Testament
(
Harper Collins, New York, 1996) p. 97

~~~~~

"Gather My godly ones to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice."

Psalm 50:5

~~~~~

"The fulfillment of the Lord's design for his people to be a special treasure, a royal priesthood, a holy nation is contingent on 'keeping his covenant and obeying his voice.' Nothing has changed in the New Testament.

The supreme test of righteousness is still, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . and your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39, cf. Deut. 6:5. Lev. 19:18).

As a summary of the Decalogue [Ten Commandments] Jesus' call for 'love' is a call for covenant commitment, first to God, then to one's fellow human beings."

Daniel Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24
(Eerdmans' Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1997), p. 714

~~~~~

"Thus if we will not have the Spirit who asks for our commitment to him, we must sooner or later have the spirits, who appear to ask for nothing, but in fact intend to make us slaves."

John N. Oswalt,
The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39,
(William B. Eerdman's Publishing,
Grand Rapids, MI, 1986) p. 260

~~~~~

Quotes on the Need for Simplicity


"That we for the most part must be considered poor is no disgrace to us but an honor. A life of luxury weakens the spirit. Frugality makes it strong. And yet, how can anyone be considered poor who does no feel any want, who does not covet what belongs to others, who is rich in God's eyes? Much more should he be considered poor who always craves for more while he already has much."

Minucius Felix, Octavius 36. 3-7 (about 160 AD)

~~~~~

Quotes on Holiness and Consecration


"If you want to know what is meant by 'God's will' in man's life, this is one way to get a good idea of it. 'God's will' is certainly found in anything that is required of us in order that we may be united with one another in love.'


Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
(New Directions, Abbey of Gethsemeni, 1961), p.76

~~~~~


"Better to die for the sake of Jesus Christ than to be King over the utmost ends of the earth."

Ignatius, Letter to the Romans,
9pre 120 A.D. (before Martyrdom)

~~~~~

"Let me love and not be respected; Let me serve and not be rewarded; Let me labor and not be remembered; Let me suffer and not be regarded .

'Tis the pouring, not the drinking;'Tis the breaking, not the keeping-

A life suffering to seek others' blessing, A life loving and true comfort giving; Not expecting pity and concern Not accepting solace and applause;

Even lonely, even forgotten, Even wordless, even forsaken.

Tears and blood my price for the righteous crown shall be; Losing all, my cost for a faithful pilgrim's life. 'Tis the life, O Lord, that You chose to live, In those days when on earth You walked, Gladly suffering all injuries and loss.

So that all might draw near and repose., I cannot see how much farther I shall go; Still I press on knowing there is no return. Let me follow Your pattern so perfect and true, Bearing ingratitudes without complaint.

In this time of trial, O Lord, I pray That You'll wipe all my hidden tears away; Let me learn, O Lord, You are my reward, Let me be others' blessing all my days."

Prayer composed by Watchmen Nee, 1930
while in prison under communist regime

~~~~~

"The fundamental problem with most of us is not deficient self-esteem but inadequate divine-esteem. As we submit ourselves to God, [and recognize] that ultimately he operates for his own name's sake, and that his investment in us relates to agendas far greater than ourselves, we will treasure the grace which he reaches out to us."

Daniel I. Block, The New International
Commentary on the Old Testament
The Book of Ezekiel: Chapter 1-24
(William B. Eerdmans, Publishing,
Grand Rapids, Michigan; 1997), p. 659

~~~~~

"Ask about the local church's role in the world, and most Christians immediately begin hauling out mission statements, actions plans, and strategy schemes. They are already lacing up their Nikes, asking, "What should we do?"

That eagerness is wonderful, [but] we need the Big-picture view of the body, alive and vibrant—the holy, presence in the world. For the church's role in the world is not a series of independent items on an action checklist.

Instead, the church's role (what it does) is dependent on its character (what it is) as a community of believers. What we do, therefore, flows from who we are.

This character oriented perspective is totally foreign to our achievement-oriented society, however, where we look at what people do rather than who they are. And it goes against everything in our consumer oriented religious culture, where we pick and choose churches on the basis of fellowship [personal clique's] or outreach programs or music or location or convenient parking.

Rarely do we hear believers say, "I decided to join this church because of its character as a holy community." Nor do most choose a church on the basis of it capacity to disciple and equip them for ministry.

Yet that should be our very first consideration. If the church is the body, the holy presence of Christ in the world, its most fundamental task is to build communities of holy character." [Author's italics throughout]

Excerpted , from Charles Colson's, The Body

~~~~~

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