Thursday, January 05, 2006

What is Your Role in Receiving from the Church?

Following the highly relational picture I used in my answer to Wayne’s question "What is the church?", let me take it closer to home and answer his second question: “What is your role in receiving from the church?” This is not an exhaustive list but I hope, by starting with a description of two recent personal examples, I can convey at least in part what receiving from the church looks like to me.

There is a couple my wife Cathy & I are close to named Brennan and Marie. We hang out a lot. Recently, I was working through some heart-related issues re: what it means for me to be a leader. I think God has done some work in my heart helping me be me, but I still fall into old patterns. I had done so and recognized it and asked for some prayer, but it didn’t work out at Home Group for various reasons. Then, as I continued to process it, I received an eMail from Marie suggesting they come over to our house a couple days after home group, to pray for me. They and Cathy laid hands on me and prayed and God came and touched me in a big way. I was sobbing and didn't care. It was so great to get a break from having to be "the leader" -- the "one in charge" and just receive. And to know they loved me enough to pursue me felt wonderful.

Here’s another example: I have a friend with whom I hang out at least twice a week. Over the course of the past year or so, I've inadvertently (read: thoughtlessly) betrayed this friend’s trust a few times and, each time, had to repent and ask for forgiveness. The most recent time was less than a week ago. I knew I had to ask for forgiveness, and did so -- again. My friend again forgave me and is still pressing in to God to work through trust issues, but allowing me to fall and get back up in the process.

In addition to this, the other folks around me in the church sharpen me a la Proverbs re: iron sharpening iron. And sometimes, I receive just watching them; just being around people who are following -- just being a part of "the assembly". People who get words of knowledge, or just people who fall and get back up alongside me -- the point is allowing them to be alongside me; staying beside them as we all walk and fall and get back up and walk together.

And all of this pertains not only to the friends who happen to be geographically close to me like the ones I mention above -- this also pertains to the ones who live far away but know me through the internet or have a history together with me. Staying connected to these people and allowing them to ask me questions and challenge me on stuff: I need that.

Not "below me" in a top-down org chart.
Not "above me" in a bottom-up "I'm the main servant" model.
Beside me. Walking with me. Peers.

Another thing re: receiving from the church -- I also want to stay in contact with other believers who are observing different traditions. I want my Jesus-following friends to come from not only Vineyard or Vineyard-like places. Whenever I read John Wimber's account of how he and C. Peter Wagner traveled together -- and how Wagner cried in almost every church service they attended together in various denominations, etc -- I love how, from Wagner's example, Wimber caught the heart passion that Jesus loves the whole church.

I want to love what Jesus loves, including the whole church. I really do want to do that. Really doing that means letting myself receive from various traditions. Peter had to listen to Paul tell him he was screwing up. The folks in Jerusalem had to eat some crow when Peter told 'em the Gentiles were in on things too! So, likewise, I want to stay F.A.T. (Faithful, Available, and Teachable) to the whole body, as Jesus speaks to me through them.

I think this will be easier said than done, so in re-reading the above I think it sounds a bit idealistic and overly optimistic re: my ability to be humble and my ability to see and believe the best about others. But it is what I want to do.

~ Keith

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