The With-ness and the Without Principle

There is an old African saying: “We are, therefore I am.” I like that. It expresses the very life and nature of the Christian faith and the Christian Church. Because, as I have mentioned in the last few days, we only find our true identity in Jesus Christ when we are connected to the Christian community – in particular, one local church.

The US army captures this thought with their current advertising campaign for new recruits: “An army of one.” And, the Body of Christ is called, in Scripture, an army of the Lord and we are a singular “body” even though we are found in different local expressions (assemblies) in every nation on the planet we call home. The Christian faith is about community – connectedness – and being there with and for one another. And, once that is established and settled in your heart – being there for those who do not know Jesus because then we are a correct witness of the experience of being a believer.

If your witness is simply to explain a set of teachings and beliefs – then you have missed the point. As you are with people and building relationships you will be inviting them into an experience – an experience of the living God as found only in Jesus and His body, the Church. So, you need to be connected in a healthy and dynamic way first before you can invite them to share what you have – a personal and corporate experience of God. “We are, therefore I am.” An army of one!

As believers we should be with non-believers and other believers in community with Christ. With them in love and care, without judgment. With them in encouragement and comfort, without condition. With them in support and healing, without self concern.

While refining these thoughts first recorded a month ago I happen to be reading “The Irresistible Revolution.” Shane Claiborne writes: “Community is what we are created for. We are made in the image of a God who is community, a plurality of oneness. When the first human was made, things were not good until there were two, helping one another. The biblical story is the story of community, from beginning to end. Jesus lived and modeled community with His little band of disciples. He always sent them out in pairs, and the early church is the story of a people who were together and were of one heart and mind, sharing all in common. The story ends with a vision of a new community in the Book of Revelation where the city of God is dressed beautifully for her lover, this community called the New Jerusalem.”

Makes you want to do more than believe – makes you want to belong to this dynamic and eternal family called the Church. The door is open – come on in. In the wiith-ness principle you will find fulfillment and identity or you can simply wait outside and celebrate the without principle – alone!

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