A friend came by yesterday and asked my husband,”How was Origin (our church) today?”
He replied, “They were great.” And I smiled; it had been a sweet day, but more to the point I love the way that he never loses sight that the church is the people in relationship to Christ and to one another. Because I can lose sight, and I start to think of church as a collection of spiritual practices or even at certain times services. In the past if the church practice/service menu didn’t tickle my fancy, I might think that something is wrong with the place/people.
Recently I have been praying and chatting with the Lord about His bride, the church, but I haven’t jumped into Bible study. I have done that already I thought. This morning I was making my way through 1 Corinthians 3, and I was renewed by the beautiful descriptions of God’s gathered people:
- God’s field (1 Corinthians 3:9)
- God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
- Jesus is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11)
- God’s temple (sacred) (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
- God’s Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16)
- All things are theirs because of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
- You are of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:23)
All of these hopeful descriptives are shared in the midst of Paul giving the Corinthian church whatfor about being worldly, spiritual babies, being divisive, following people rather than Christ, being proud about the wrong things, being deceived.
And I wondered at God putting His Spirit, His Power, His goodness, into the mess that is gathered humanity. Didn’t He know He was setting Himself up for disappointment? Yes, I am sure he did.
Because from the ready set go of humanity, we have been a fickle lot. Adam and Eve could have queried when one another went for the fruit, but as all of us have, they went for the comfort/curiosity right in front of them rather than trusting in God’s goodness, truth, provision, and being for them, and neither questioned the other’s actions until confronted. Add more humans to the mix, and Caleb is killing Abel because God looked on favour at Abel because he did what was right. Caleb got angry, misdirected his anger, and killed his brother over their different spiritual practices. When confronted and punished, (remember God had warned Cain, had guided him in what to do with his anger), Cain grieves loss of land and community, being hidden from God’s presence, being a restless wanderer, and fears for his life. Notably he does not mention grief for his brother. While punishing, God still protected and related to Cain.
So, new thought for me, God is never surprised when we don’t do the good we know to do; humans have struggled with living into the right and beautiful from the beginning. And God still always hope and expects beautiful things from us. So when God’s communities have trouble getting along or being loving, this has a long history, and He has entrusted humans to be His temple.
Probably, the fact that Jesus is the foundation creates the security of God’s hope. Seedlings on their own are easily crushed or underfed. But a nurse log creates a nutritious ecosystem that allows the seedlings to thrive and to grow up together – strong and healthy. Jesus provides all we need for life and godliness; His Spirit nurses us to have healthy, deep roots in Him and causes His people to flourish together.