I wrote this post in originally in December of 2010. Since then, my husband and I are blessed to have found a community of believers who live life alongside us in a way that naturally brings us closer to God. Still, this post sums up the necessity of strong community and God’s desire for us to experience it as part of our walk with Him.

Strings Attached Ministries

“Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so dull and insignificant.  As individual stones, we can do little with them except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of god.  That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.”- Henri Nouwen

Finding ways to engage the community of believers is the central teaching of Strings Attached Ministries.  Learning to plug into and act as a vital part of the Fellowship of Christ is key to truly deepening your relationship with God.

We have focused in the past weeks on deepening our quest for…

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God of the Small

I am currently reading Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and loving this devotional look at the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) as a way of deepening our relationship, our discipleship if you will, to Jesus Christ.  If you aren’t familiar with Eugene Peterson or with the Songs of Ascent, I highly recommend them both.

As I’ve been preparing to lead these retreats on Spiritual Discipline, I have done lots of study on the path of a disciplined disciple.  This book is one of those resources. I found this nugget in my morning devotion and it rocked my world.  Enjoy!

“The great danger of Christian discipleship is that we should have two religions: a glorious, biblical Sunday gospel that sets us free from the world, that in the cross and resurrection of Christ makes eternity alive in us, a magnificent gospel of Genesis and Romans and Revelation; and, then, an everyday religion that we make do with during the week between time of leaving the world and arriving in heaven.  We save the Sunday gospel for the big crises of existence. For the mundane trivialties–the times when our foot slips on a loose stone, or the heat of the sun gets too much for us, or the influence of the moon gets us down–we use the everyday religion of the Reader’s Digest reprint, advice from a friend, an Ann Landers column, the huckstered wisdom of a talk-show celebrity. We practice patent-medicine religion. We know that God created the universe and has accomplished our eternal salvation. But we can’t believe that he condescends to watch the soap opera of our daily trials and tribulations; so we purchase our own remedies for that. To ask him to deal with what troubles us each day is like asking a famous surgeon to poor iodine on a scratch.

But Psalm 121 says that the same faith that works in the big things works in the little things. The God of Genesis 1 who brought light out of darkness is also the God of this day who guards you from every evil. ”

God is not just our guardian in hard times, in crises, in tragedy (like what is happening in Japan right now).  He is God in wonder, and happiness, and joy.  He is God when little, seemingly insignificant things trouble us, and God when the robin’s song and a sunshiny spring day make our hearts sing.  He is the God of the earthquake, and the God of the baby’s giggle.   God’s interest in us never waxes….his desire to love and protect us extends to the tiniest hair on your head. Big or small, He is God.

Upgrade Your Spirit- Finding Community

“Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so dull and insignificant.  As individual stones, we can do little with them except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of god.  That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.”- Henri Nouwen

Finding ways to engage the community of believers is the central teaching of Strings Attached Ministries.  Learning to plug into and act as a vital part of the Fellowship of Christ is key to truly deepening your relationship with God.

We have focused in the past weeks on deepening our quest for solitude and time to BE with God alone because it is a spiritual discipline that often gets overlooked and laid aside when our lives get busy.  And frankly, because it is the part of MY spiritual walk that I am most called to at this time (Yay- that you are experiencing this learning curve with me!)

However, when I was discussing this series with a friend recently, she asked a question that gave me a moment of pause. “If you are plugged into community, how does solitude fit?”

Hmmmmm….

Then I ran across this in my reading.

“Solitude is not a private space over against a public space of community, nor is it merely a healing space in which we restore ourselves for community life.  Solitude and community belong together; each requires the other as do the center and circumference of a circle.  Solitude without community leads us to loneliness and despair, but community without solitude hurls us into a void of words and feelings.- Bonhoeffer

“A void of words and feelings-“ wow….ummmm….ouch.

This is where I live my life often when I find myself stealing moments with God instead of scheduling time with Him. (Here’s a hint….I am not a very good thief. Stolen moments never happen.) You see, I am learning that it is a fallacy to think that we grow closer to each other only when we talk, play, or work together.

“Solitude is inseparable from community because in solitude we affirm the deepest reality of our lives together, namely, that as a community we are like hands pointing to God in prayer.”-Nouwen

So what does the discipline of community look like? Doesn’t that sound strange? Discipline of community? But without discipline, community becomes a ‘word that refers more to a safe, homey, and EXCLUSIVE place than a space where new life can be received and brought to its fullness.” It requires discipline because to create space for God among us requires us to look past our differences and prejudices and constantly recognize the Spirit of God in each other.

We are called to a level of fellowship far deeper than potlucks and small group studies.  The Greek word used to describe this community is koinoniaKoinonia is a word so rich in meaning no single English definition quite suffices.

“To create a bond between comrades is the meaning of koinonia when people are recognized, share their joy and pains together, and are united because of their common experiences, interests and goals. Fellowship creates a mutual bond which overrides each individual’s pride, vanity, and individualism, fulfilling the human yearning with fraternity, belonging, and companionship. This meaning of koinonia accounts for the ease by which sharing and generosity flow. When combined with the spiritual implications of koinonia, fellowship provides a joint participation in God’s graces and denotes that common possession of spiritual values.

Thus early Christians had a fellowship with God, sharing the common experience of joys, fears, tears, and divine glory. In this manner, those who shared believed their true wealth lay not in what they had, but in what they gave to others. Fellowship is never passive in the meaning of koinonia, it is always linked to action, not just being together, but also doing together. With fellowship comes a close and intimate relationship embracing ideas, communication, and frankness, as in a true, blessed interdependent friendship among multiple group members.” –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koinonia

Community requires a deep understanding of those we choose to fellowship with.  It is vital to our walk with Christ to find and engage a community of believers, those that  walk alongside us, that hold us accountable, and that love us for who we are.  It is also vital that we are our true selves within this community, open and honest and willing to be vulnerable.  This is not an easy feat in this world.  It requires….that’s right….discipline.

Take some time today to reflect on the following questions:

  • Am I a part of a community of believers?
  • Am I truly plugged in or am I ‘just playing church?’
  • Am I open- willing to be vulnerable or am I faking it?
  • How would my walk with Christ change if I truly plugged into fellowship with other believers?

You are a vital piece of the puzzle. Without you our picture is incomplete.

Are you plugged in?