SCRIPTURE: Psalm 133
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 25 October 2012
[This is the concluding part of a 4-part series called "Pillars of the Church." In Part IV, I will concentrate on the pillar of praying and caring for one another. The Greek word for this is koinonia, or commonly translated as fellowship.]
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore." (Ps 133:1-3)
I have seen a fair number of caring and sharing in churches too. I remember how individual small group members will come together to help a member in need, without being asked, without exacting payment in any kind. The generosity and the caring puts into action the basic commandment of God, to love our neighbours because we love God. During hard times, members of a loving community will put aside disagreements and bickerings, to serve one another. Jesus has said to his disciples in John 13:14, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet."
B) Common Identity
For any community to thrive, the common identity is crucial. Central to such an identity is the common vision and mission. The traditional creeds of the Church represent a major statement that gives the community a common identity. Creeds have many advantages. It helps believers to spell out essentials of faith. It anchors the Church on the centrality of the Christian belief. It forms a common bond to give the identity. The word 'creed' comes from the Latin word, 'credo' which means "I believe." Churches many denominations still adhere to the Apostles' Creed. It is that one creed that unites the many different Christian groups all over the world. By the common creed, Anglicans, Baptists, Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Independents, and many other branches of Christianity are able to come together to call one another brothers and sisters in Christ. The traditional creeds also remind all present and future believers, the common historical past we all share. After all, before the schisms, there is only one Church.
C) Common Unity
Thankfully, God has been gracious to turn this tragedy, and to make Regent College one of the most beloved theological schools in North America. As a graduate of this wonderful place, I will not hesitate to recommend this place, and the wonderful community for you to be a part of, at some point of your life.
D) Brokenness and Humility
This fourth pillar of the Church is shrouded with images of servanthood, brokeness, and humble living. Community living can only be done if we learn to look out for each other. It is never about us. It is all about God and others, who in turn will look out for us. Just this week, there is a transcript of Dr Richard Teo, a medical doctor who passed away on October 19th, 2012. He was 40. Having made his millions, at his prime, he discovers he had Stage 4 lung cancer. That changes his entire perspective of what life is all about. In his message to a group of students at the Dental Christian Fellowship, this is what he said.
"True joy I discovered comes from interaction. Over the last few months I was so down. Interaction with my loved ones, my friends, my brothers in Christ, my sisters in Christ, and only then was I able to be motivated, able to be uplifted. To share your sorrow, to share your happiness – that’s true joy." (Dr Richard Teo)You can read more of his transcript here. In independence, we aim to be self-sufficient. When inter-dependent, we aim to help meet one another's needs. Koinonia is more than that. It is more than learning to upend one another to be the best spiritual person. It is much more than simply scratching one another's back where it itches. Koinonia is a common identity in Christ, lived out in community of Christ, and given generously by serving one another for Christ. Whether it is a brother who breaks a leg before the start of a weekly afternoon prayer meeting. Whether it is lung cancer that brings perspective back to Richard Teo. I pray for you and I, that we do not have to depend on an unpleasant event for us to turn back to God. We can help one another turn away from the world, to turn each other toward God, and to walk to God. In the Name of Jesus.
THOUGHT: "Christ-centered community allows us to reflect the relational nature of God as well as his mercy and grace. It is a community that confronts sin and forgives one another, marked by compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. It is a community that seeks to live in peace with one another and reconcile broken relationships." (Brad House, Community, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011, 37)
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