– Well, sometimes the Christian church has looked less like the bride of Christ and more like the bride of Frankenstein. The church can be an ugly
thing when it gets off track and doesn’t keep Jesus at the center. In this series, we’re
talking about a season in our church history where
we were not at our best. We were ugly and we were violent. We were a monstrous version of ourselves. The early 1500s is when the
Protestant Reformation happened and then right on its heels
came the Radical Reformation, the Anabaptists. These are our spiritual forebears. This is our DNA. You can’t really deny your DNA. Where you come from is
where you come from. What we can say is, as we
look at our root system, how can we maximize our strengths? How can we help our weaknesses grow and become more self aware of them? That’s what we’re doing
through this series as we look at our Radical
Reformation roots as Anabaptists. Today, week three,
Anabaptists and the church. What did Anabaptists
think about the nature of the church itself and who we are? This is gonna be important. If you haven’t noticed or
it hasn’t been mentioned, we are pre-recording this message across all of our sites
so you will not hear the usual uproarious laughter
at my keen sense of wit or the hallelujah, amens
that are usually resonating in this place as the Shekinah glory falls. This is an empty room right now. It’s just you and me hanging out. Here’s what we’re gonna do, walk through eight different qualities or radical beliefs of the Anabaptists about the issue of church. Then, we’re gonna open up the scriptures and look at a particular passage that meant a great deal to them where they drew some of their theology. We’re gonna go very quickly
through these eight values. First of all, radical ideas
about the nature of church. Here we go, number one. Just as humanity experienced the fall through Adam and Eve, so the
church experienced a fall through Constantine. Anabaptists felt the church got off track. It fell from grace in a dramatic way and became that monstrous
version of itself. What’s interesting is
Protestants talked the same way about what they called
the fall of the church. But, different Protestant leaders pointed to a different time and a different reason why the fall happened. They were usually
identifying particular popes and their errant Catholic theology that got the church off track. Anabaptists were the first to say, “It’s not because of this pope’s theology, “it’s the fact that there is anyone “who is in charge by power with might, “with the sword in hand.” It all can be traced back to Constantine, the first Roman emperor
to embrace Christianity. That started a series of dominoes tipping that eventually made Christianity
the official religion of the Roman Empire. Anabaptists said, “No,
that gives the church “and our religion the power it
was never designed to have.” Jesus teaches clearly in Mark chapter 10 that we are not to lead
the way civic authority or national authority leads,
political authority, no. He says, “Do not lord it over
them like the gentiles do.” But, rather, we’re going
to lead from the bottom up in a way that seeks to
persuade individual hearts with the beauty of the gospel, not to coerce people through
legislation and force. It is when the church has
become drunk with power that we have fallen and
everything really can come back to that point. Anabaptists saw that more clearly. Number two, the church is
a voluntary association. Which seems normative to
us, was radical in its day when you became a member of the church through your infant baptism. Depending on what country
you were born into, that decided your religious future. Born in Germany, you’re a Lutheran. Born in France, you’re Catholic. To say, “No, we as Anabaptists, “we will raise our children
to believe in Jesus. “But, we will also want
to at the same time “encourage them to make their own choices “and release them to do so.” Which is why believer’s baptism, a baptism of someone who
wants to follow Jesus becomes so important. Number three, scripture is best understood through community. At the time, both Catholic
and Protestant churches believed scripture is best understood through the preaching of the word by the scholar who has put the
time into studying scripture. That is certainly one of
the ways that scripture needs to be communicated. Some people just are, to
have someone who’s paid to have extra time. To kind of be like the information gopher. “I’m gonna go and get
that extra information “that we don’t all have time to research “and present that as a
service to the community “is important.” But, alternately, Anabaptists said, to borrow a phrase and idea
that we often talk about, real church happens
when you turn the chairs to face one another. Where you’re not just
receiving information from the professional. But, you are then learning
together, applying it together, and also understanding
what the Spirit is speaking to the body of Christ. This led to what has been called
the community hermeneutic. Hermeneutic is just the art or science of interpreting scripture. The fact that this should
be done in community makes a bold statement. It says, yes, people
who have more education or more opportunity to
research have a role to play but so does the person who
has very little education and who may not be literate but is understanding the scriptures from his or her place in life. When the churches gather together, the acknowledgement that
the same Holy Spirit, and Anabaptists really
believe that the role of the Holy Spirit was very alive and very vividly present in
everyone in the community, then the same Holy Spirit
that’s in the pastor is also in the parishioner, is also in the person who is
the least educated among us or maybe is a brand new Christian but has received the Holy
Spirit and now is coming to scripture and saying, “Here’s what I see in the text
from my position in life.” And that’s valuable. It’s not the only perspective, but as we gather all of
these perspectives up, we hear more clearly what God
wants to say to the church. You can see at The Meeting House, this is very important to us. That Sunday mornings are
designed to be incomplete in and of themselves,
but rather to give us some basic information, get us thinking, so we can go into our
home church experience in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to continue to be our teaching through all the members
of the body of Christ. Not only is scripture best
understood through community, but God’s will is best
known through community. That’s point number four,
God’s will is best known through community. One of the intellectual
pastimes of many Christians, unintentionally, is just
saying, “I want to know “what God’s will is for my life. “What does He want me to do?” Sometimes, in a long-term distant future, sometimes it’s career,
sometimes it’s mission, and sometimes it’s just in a
moment or in a relationship. “How should I respond to this person? “What about this?” Many of the questions
we ask really boil down to that ultimate question,
“What’s God’s will here?” Again, Anabaptists said
in order to discern that, it’s not just you and the scriptures or just you listening to the
paid, professional holy man. But it is you in community,
listening to the voice of brothers and sisters
’cause the Holy Spirit will speak through them. In fact, when Anabaptists
baptized a new convert into their community, in many streams, and still today in many Mennonite and Anabaptist churches
at someone’s baptism, when they publicly affirm
their faith in Christ, sometimes there’s a series of questions and sometimes there’s just
one question that’s asked. Here’s a question that’s
either the one primary question or it’s usually on the list
of questions, and it is this, “Are you willing to give
and receive counsel?” In other words, when we baptize you, this is not just about you declaring that you believe in Jesus
and that He has saved you and you and Jesus are good. It’s asking the question, “Are we good?” Remember, we talked about
baptism being a baptism of the Spirit that is
into the body of Christ. I think we talked about
this the first week in 1 Corinthians 12,
which we’re gonna turn to in a few minutes. It is a plunging into the body of Christ. So, Anabaptists and some
churches still today will ask the question,
“Are you willing to give “and receive counsel?” In other words, are you
being plunged into the body so that together we make decisions about what is the best for
our lives, what God’s will is? Not just continue on as
separate individuals, which any non-Christian can do. That same Holy Spirit
that’s in you that’s in me, allows us to also turn
to one another to say, “I need advice, I need
help in making a decision.” Are you willing to give
and receive counsel? Where are you on the involvement meter as far as your commitment,
both to listening to those around you but also admitting that the Lord may want
to speak through you to share wisdom with others. It doesn’t matter if your heart’s in it. You say, “Yes, I’m willing
to give and receive counsel,” if you’re not part of
the expression of church that brings people close enough together so that we have a view
into each other’s lives and we can build friendships
and ask question. Then, it doesn’t matter
if our hearts are willing, we’re not actually gonna live it out. So, again, we want to maintain
that Anabaptist vision of a church that is
intimate and interactive. All of this really says that you do not have to feel intimidated because
your education level is low or because you are new to the faith. These last two points are related and we can kind of graph it this way what our Anabaptist forebears believed. As far as your amount of
theological education is concerned, it’s always great to continue
to grow to continue to grow but there will come a tipping
point in most people’s lives. We don’t want to make anything absolute and mathematical in a relational issue. But, there will come a
time in most people’s lives where you will reach the
top of the bell curve as far as education’s value in your life. And then you will start to
run the risk of becoming a really nasty nerd. Someone who is learning
more and more theology but you’re not applying it
at the rate that God wants in community with people
who will encourage you and challenge you, hold you accountable. So, Anabaptists, and still
today you understand, in some circles Anabaptists are wary of excessive education. And we can understand why. What they saw around them was
that it was the most learned among them, intellectuals of high-renowned who were still advocating that, that the church should
kill those who disagree with their conclusions. So, they said more
education is not necessarily always the answer. We don’t want to become
anti-education either. We also just want to
say, “Lord, at what point “is my education
exceeding my application?” And be cautious about that. I like the quote from J.I. Packer who is a Christian theologian,
who’s now passed on. But, he said at one point,
“I get frustrated,” he said, “that Anabaptists don’t
seem to take time to think.” I understand that. Anabaptists have a long
history of resisting education. At least more theologically
robust education. “I get frustrated that
Anabaptists don’t seem “to take time to think. “They’re always doing things. “But then, I must admit that
they are doing more than most.” J.I. Packer acknowledged that Anabaptists, from the beginning, were
saying, “Let’s follow Jesus.” Our emphasis should be at
whatever education level we’re at, let’s do it together and
let’s help one another become more Christ-like. But, I think there can also be room for us to have higher education as well. So, this is a season of
the Anabaptist’s life and The Meeting House is
a part of that generation that is cautiously
re-approaching higher education and saying there is a role
for that in our lives. Number five. Christians are not primarily
consumers of grace, as they saw was true of
Catholics, or justified sinners, as Protestants were primarily preaching, but genuine saints, new
creations and members of the body of Christ. Let me unpack this for a moment. Christians are not primarily
consumers of grace. According to the Catholic system, at least when it was at its worst, the primary role of the
Catholic was to show up, show up at mass and do
what the priest says. Through the sacraments of the church, these were dispensaries of grace. So, going to the church
gave you an opportunity through participating in the sacraments to get the grace of God
that gave you forgiveness. You were a consumer of God’s grace. It became a co-dependent
system on the church. You needed the priest,
you needed confession, you needed to take mass and you gave your money
to support the institution that made sure you are
continually topped off with grace and continually forgiven
of any fresh sins. That was the primary role. Certainly this is a matter of emphasis, it’s not absolute, it’s
a matter of emphasis. And that was true for the Catholic church during that time. Also, we’re not primarily
justified sinners. So, Protestants said that we
are sinners saved by grace and the doctrine of justification really drove the theological train of the Protestant Reformation. Justification, to be declared righteous. It’s a court of law understanding, and it’s biblical to say that if God is our judge, and we are guilty, and we know we’re guilty, that
we are not worthy of heaven, that we are sinners. Justification is God
declaring us not guilty. As I’ve said before, to be justified is to be just as if I’ve never sinned. We are declared not guilty. Anabaptists saw this as if it was an out of balance emphasis, could lead to what some
have called a legal fiction. In other words, you know you’re
still just a sinner right? But God has declared you righteous, so you’re officially good with God. But you’re not actually transformed. They saw Protestant theology
with it’s over-emphasis on the doctrine of justification, leading to that result. That Protestants were not living better than Catholics were living. They were still just as violent and just as dependent on the system and just as territorial
and just as nationalistic. So, Anabaptists, again, this
is a matter of emphasis, Anabaptists emphasized the
idea that we’re all saints. We are all new creations. The doctrine of regeneration or rebirth was very important to Anabaptists. Again, Protestants,
Catholics, all believing in the same thing, but
when you just adjust your emphasis slightly, it can change to a whole different approach to subsequent theologizing. So, the emphasis of the Anabaptists was not justification, but regeneration, new birth, a transformed heart that should lead to transformed living. Because now you have the power
of the Holy Spirit in you to give you the courage that you need and the strength that you
need to live that new life. And you’re all members
of the body of Christ. This certainly challenged
our Catholic friends and also some Protestants who were dealing with different ways that the body of Christ was present in the
elements for the Eucharist. And that was a real center
of theological debate, rigorous debate at the time. Body of Christ in the mass, or how did, well, it’s not fully there, the doctrine of transubstantiation is rejected by the Protestants,
but they are coming up with other ways that the body of Christ is somehow with, under, and in the body. And that becomes the area of debate. And Anabaptists said,
“Well, the important thing “is that the body of
Christ is present here, “with one another and
we are members of it. “And these elements are symbols, “to help us remember the
price that Jesus paid.” And also to remind us that today, we are the body of Christ,
and our relationships are what are paramount. You have some scripture references in your notes for number five. We won’t walk through those now. Let’s move on to number six. Point number six, we keep the church pure through discipleship and discipline. Which Anabaptists called
the rule of Christ. What we might call
today church discipline, they called the rule of Christ. Based on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18. We keep the church pure through discipleship and discipline not imprisonment, torture, or execution. That kinda has the duh factor today. But at that time, that
was radical thinking. It’s not just church discipline, but it’s also discipleship. That, if the Holy Spirit is given to all and is wanting to speak through all, then when we grow individually and we learn scripture more and we apply it more to our lives, I’m not just growing as a disciple, I’m growing as a disciple maker. Helping other people grow and being more clear in what the
Spirit is saying through me. So, even my own growth becomes a gift back to the church, to
help others grow as well. So, discipleship becomes very important to Anabaptists, in a way that it was less important to both Protestants and Catholics at that time. And then when someone walked away from living the Christ-like life, the discipline was simply to ignore them. To say, “Well you’re not part
of this body of believers.” Number seven. God is best experienced,
and grace is best received, through small groups not
sacraments or even Sunday services. I think I’ve said some portion of this through our other point, so we don’t have to tarry here for long. God is best experienced,
grace is best received through one another, through small groups, not sacraments or even Sunday services. Sunday services are a fine thing but they’re not the best
expression of church from an Anabaptist perspective. Get yourself in a position where you not only have someone teaching, but you have everyone contributing. Whether that’s done in one meeting, or in a series of meetings
throughout the week, find a way to do that. So, at The Meeting House,
as we emphasize home church, we’re very much saying,
“This is who we are, “this is our DNA, this is
not our new invention.” We’re not just a large multi-site church that has a small group program, we are a community of house churches that also has an optional
Sunday morning program. But the most important thing for us is that we both give and
receive through home church. Lastly, point number eight. Now I wanna show you something interesting before we take a look at a particular scripture passage. Point number eight. When the church becomes
more of a family circle rather than an institutional hierarchy, women become equal participants. When the church is structured so that there is a clear
authoritarian model, then passages in scripture about women not being able to hold offices, not being able to be teachers et cetera, become a very focused debate. Where do you draw the line? What is a woman allowed to
do or not allowed to do? When the leadership structure is flattened and turned into a more
family style circle, regardless of whether you
are what we would call a complementarian or an egalitarian, in that model of church, that question just becomes less important for doing church right because everyone, everyone is called to contribute. That includes women in a way that Anabaptists were able
to do right out the gate. They didn’t have to spend years rethinking their theology of can women be pastors or priests? Or can women hold this
office or play that role? It was more practical. The church is family. The church is in a circle. Each one of us comes
to contribute something and that should include women. So, really, Anabaptists didn’t necessarily rethink their theology
of women in leadership as much as they rethought
their theology of church and how church should work. That practical change led
to an immediate inclusion of women who were well-known as evangelists and as contributors to the church model in ways that had not been the
case in both the Catholic and the Protestant church
up until that time. So, that’s where we come from. As The Meeting House, even
our name is drawn from, you know, Anabaptists met
in houses for so long. First in caves and in the forest, then in houses and then when
they came to North America, they continued to meet in homes even though persecution wasn’t intense. They weren’t running away
from the institutional church while they were here in North America. They still continued to meet in homes because church was family. When they finally outgrew their homes or their barns, the first time Anabaptists began to build a building
for the church to meet in, not calling the building the church. They didn’t wanna call
the building the church ’cause we’re the church. The first time they did that, in order to help them
transition out of a home model into a building model, they called those
buildings meeting houses. They’re still the home
for the spiritual family. And still today, Mennonites call their churches meeting houses. Here’s a picture of a typical older order Mennonite meeting house. It looks a bit like a house, but that’s for the family of faith. There’s a graveyard here. I took this picture because this is Maya looking at meeting houses. We were driving down the
highway and we saw this. We pulled over and took some pictures. I like the picture for two reasons. One, because it shows our ancestry, the meeting house. Secondly, because Maya just looks like a ghost, who is hovering
outside the graveyard. There’s only one thing
creepier than a ghost hovering around a graveyard. And that’s a creepy child ghost and that’s what she looks like. God bless her. Kids are creepy. All right, there’s one other
thing I want to show you before we open up our Bibles. But you can begin to
look at 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians chapter 12,
that’s where we’re headed. 1 Corinthians chapter 12. This idea of church as something that is less formalized
and more participatory allowed the Anabaptist
movement to grow quickly and didn’t need to establish itself with safety and security
within a particular region or country in order to have the protection to build the cathedrals and the learned institutions of education. They never had any of that. But it did allow them
to go anywhere quickly, because of their understanding of church. That’s similar to The Meeting House. As we begin to do research, we’ve talked before about
The Meeting House network and what it would take
to plant meeting houses further afield. Now, we’re just researching that. Thank you for your continued prayers. But also reminds me, that
we get emails all the time from people around the world who are tracking with The Meeting House, who are starting house
churches or home churches, who partner with our teaching and are kind of loosely affiliated
with us at The Meeting House. That continues to be an expression of something that began in
our Anabaptist beginnings. I want to give you one
example of that today. It’s some friends who are in Italy who, a couple years ago,
just started tracking with our teaching and then said, “Let’s grow this into a church.” Eventually, they got to
the rights to translate my first book The End
of Religion into Italian and started distributing that. As people read that book and
started to have questions because Italy has a lot
of post-church dropouts who are in that state of just
wondering what they believe while still not wanting to
jettison the idea of God. And so, it’s a fruitful field for people hearing the irreligious gospel of Jesus. What they’ve seen is the first generation of people who are beginning to respond had their first retreat just recently with 20 people to talk
about what shall we do in starting our Meeting
House home churches. It’s all brand new. But they’ve already got
a website up and running. So, just wanted to show you that. It is The Meeting House, here it is. It’s The Meeting House Italia. They’ve got this lovely,
and it’s all in Italian. But, I trust it says some
really lovely stuff there. Actually, Google let’s you translate. What’s also kind of fun is, besides these people are
spiritual entrepreneurs, besides already translating
The End of Religion, they have begun translating
teaching series. Like, overdubbing, so people
can watch our video podcast and hear it in Italian. I thought I might just be
nice, before we move on, to let you hear a couple of minutes of me preaching in Italian. Here we go. (translator speaking Italian) – Oh, friends, let’s face it. I have never sounded so sexy. That is so (blows kiss), wonderful. All right, 1 Corinthians chapter
12 is where we’re headed. Have your Bibles open. Let me also mention just very quickly, something’s coming up that I
want to draw your attention to. It’s the Brethren in Christ
Annual General Meeting with the theme of becoming. That is coming up May 6, 2017. We’ll have a chance. It says celebrating the
legacy, present and future of the Brethren in Christ in Canada. As we’re talking about what it means to be brethren in Christ, it’s just great to highlight this. I hope you’re able to come to this. Yes, we have certain
delegates who come to vote, but it is open to everyone. It’s wonderful just to hang
out with Brethren in Christ people from other churches. So, that’s May 6th. Okay, starting at the
beginning of 1 Corinthians 12. The apostle Paul in 1
Corinthians 12, 13, and 14, writes a unit on a particular topic. 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14, helping the Corinthian church. Think about what it
means to be the church. Specifically, their issue
that needs correcting is they fall in love with
certain spiritual gifts. Especially those spiritual
gifts that operate for personal edification
such as praying tongues that he talks about here that builds up the believer. That becomes a highlight
for the Corinthians but they become one of the
most unhealthy churches that the New Testament talks about and we start to see why. Because their emphasis
is on me being built up and what gifts will
help me feel fulfilled. So, through 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14, the apostle Paul is teaching them how to turn outside themselves and say, “If I have any gifts, if I
have anything to contribute, “I should want to emphasize the gifts “that serve others, that edify the church “or build up the church.” This becomes his theme. So, it’s no accident that
the famous love chapter that is read at many
weddings is 1 Corinthians 13, right in the middle of this
1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 because his discussion about love is really tracing them
how to do a better job of being the church and
using what God has given you to serve one another. So, starting in chapter 12 he says, “I’m talking to you about
your spiritual gifts. “I don’t want you to be unaware.” In verse three he says, “I
want to make this known to you “that no one can say Jesus is
Lord except by the Spirit.” No one can say Jesus is
cursed apart from the Spirit. So, the Holy Spirit is
in us and the first thing the Spirit wants to do
is to establish Jesus as our centerpiece. The primary evidence of
a Spirit-filled church is not a church that is
gaga for the Holy Spirit or nutso for the Holy Spirit’s gifts, but a church that is
falling in love with Jesus over and over again. The Holy Spirit is the
one who leads us to say, “Jesus is Lord.” It’s not just a matter
of saying the words, it is a heart expression. That Jesus is the one who has the right to show me how to live, tell me how to live, to lead me in a way, and I want Him to be Lord of my life. I want to become more like Jesus. This is the evidence
of being Spirit-filled. Now, he says there’s all kinds of gifts yet there’s the same Spirit
operating through all of them. It kind of equalizes the gifts, what they were highlighting special ones. He’s wanting to equalize
them, except he will say, “Those that love others
more will be the ones “that you should be highlighting.” And he says there’s a variety of gifts that are the same Spirit
and also the same Lord. Verse six, there’s
varieties of the effects or the outcomes of the Spirit. The same God is working through them all. Look at verse seven. “But each one, each person, every person “is given some manifestation
of the Spirit.” Why? “For the good of all,”
or for the common good. The Spirit is working in all of us and each one of us, if we
have given our life to Christ, our water baptism symbolizes
our spirit baptism being plunged into the body of Christ. Each one of us, then, is
equipped with something we can bring to contribute
for the common good. Just to move down to verse 13, that’s what we looked
at a couple weeks ago. “For by one Spirit we were
all baptized into one body.” I’m just gonna highlight a few verses in these three chapters. You’re gonna look at more
of this than in home church. Look at verse 25, 1 Corinthians 12:25. He says, “All of this is happening “so that there may be no
division in the body of Christ “but that the members of this body, “may have the same care or
concern for one another.” The Greek word there
for care or for concern for one another is the same word that Jesus is recorded using
in the Sermon on the Mount when He says, “Do not
worry about your life.” It’s translated worry there. Here it’s translated
either care or concern. It’s a word for having
an intense care for. So, what Jesus is saying is, “Don’t focus the intensity of your care,” in the Sermon on the Mount he says, “on the stuff that you own,
the clothes that you wear.” That’s not where you put
your care and your concern. It’s translated worry there. Here, we do put our worry, if you’re gonna worry about something, if you’re a worrywart,
just shift that worry to other people and let
that energy allow you to care for them better
rather than just saying, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry,” you can shift the focus of your worry, the same word here, to those
around you who have needs and allow that to move you
in a relational direction. Verse 27, “You are Christ’s
body,” is the emphasis. In chapter 11, we’re talking about, it’s our communion chapter. We often read talking
about the body of Christ. The emphasis there is
not just on the bread but on the people who
are the body of Christ. So, he’s just finished having
that conversation again. He’s reminding them, “You
are the body of Christ. “Each one of you is a part of that.” Then we mention just a
couple of other things. How about, if you skip ahead, so we have chapter 13, the love chapter. Then we jump into chapter 14. And here, he says, “For
those of you who have “a tongue-talking gift,
I want to encourage you “to think of prophecy,”
which is still the Lord speaking through you but
it’s for the edification or the building up of another. And he will say in chapter
14, “Pursue love, pursue love “and desire spiritual gifts but especially “that you may prophecy. “Those of you who want to have some kind “of spiritual speaking gift, “for the one who speaks
in a tongue does not speak “to each other but to God,”
and no one understands what they’re saying. But, verse three, “The one who prophecies “speaks for the building
up or the edification “or the exhortation or the teaching “and the consolation of the church.” It’s that expression of love. This should be what is driving us. Lastly, skip ahead in
chapter 14 to verse 26, 1 Corinthians 14 verse 26. He says, “What is the outcome, then? “What is my conclusion in all of this?” Now, this is Paul kind of
drawing his own conclusion of these three chapters. Now, we’re talking about
a lot of things here. What’s my main point? “Brothers and sisters, when you assemble, “when you come together, each one of you, “every one of you should have something “to contribute, a song, or a teaching, “or a revelation.” If you don’t know the scriptures
to teach the scriptures, you can at least say, “What is
God saying to me these days?” And contribute from your own heart. “A teaching, a revelation, or a tongue, “or an interpretation. “Let all things be done
for building up the church “for edification.” And each one of us is an
equal participant in that. This is the radical vision of the church that today, of course, many Protestants and many Catholics
understand the importance of small groups and coming together and learning from one another. And I’m so glad that
this has not become now an exclusively Anabaptist
understanding of church. But, for a long time, this was all we had. This is certainly something
we were wanting to live for. We were willing to die for. At The Meeting House,
we want to reinvigorate our vision of saying,
“Yes, this is my home “and this is my heritage.” So, I’d like to close by
asking you a question. And that question is in our takeout. And that question is one that
we’ve already talked about that Anabaptists will ask
one another at their baptism. And, remember, here’s the question. Are you willing to give
and receive counsel? Are you willing to give
and receive counsel? Now, think about it. It’s not just a poetic
conclusion to a sermon. But, think about it and say, “Am I? “Or am I someone who just kind of shows up “and learns a bit and then leaves?” Are you willing to rebuke
yourself, in a sense. And to say, “What I’m
doing is not what church “was designed to be.” As we’ve read from the first century, it’s where each person comes
with something to contribute and also then to receive. Are you willing to give
and receive counsel? If you’re willing to give counsel, that’s going to help pull you out of being too casual about church. Just, hey, I’m showing up. I’m here, it’s cool. It’s gonna pull you
out of being too casual because you’re willing to give. You’re willing to say, “God,
speak through me, use me. “I’m gonna volunteer. “I’m gonna share, I’m
going to contribute.” Being willing to give
counsel will pull you out of the casual into the committed. But, also, are you
willing not only to give but to receive counsel? That will pull you not just
out of being too casual without it being too controlling. ‘Cause if you only come as
someone who’s ready to give, “Spirit speaks through me,” then, once again, we can be off balance. Are you willing also to receive counsel, to hear what the body of
Christ is saying to you. This is a beautiful corrective. I would love to invite us, then, to reconsider our all in this in the body of Christ
expressed through this church, The Meeting House. Let me pray. Heavenly Father, I thank You
for our spiritual heritage. No family’s perfect. I get that. And no spiritual family’s perfect. But, I do thank you for our family. For those many brothers and sisters who we are not gonna meet until heaven, who lived well and died better, who sacrificed their lives to paint a new vision of what the church could be and should be. I pray that we would not take this lightly as we wear the mantle of our forebears that we would see this is not
just about being Anabaptist. That’s who we happen to be. That’s the family we’ve been born into or have been grafted into, adopted into. But, it is, if we believe in this vision, it is a better capturing of what the New Testament church
really was all about and what Jesus has
called the church to be. So, I pray that our hearts
would be reinvigorated with our own contribution
to this body of Christ, to this expression of the
global body of Christ. I pray that your Spirit will convict us and will encourage us and
move us toward one another that we might take that next step and whatever it means. To be an active, an active participant in this family of faith. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen. Hi, I’m Bruxy, thanks for joining us for this week’s teaching
at The Meeting House. If you want to see more teaching of The Meeting House,
just click right up here. If you want to know more
about what’s happening in our church community,
lots to discover right here. If you want to know what our
kids and youth are up to, then click down here. Otherwise, you got options
so just click away. Just click into your own future. Move forward with the blessing of God. You know, to be human is to make choices. Embrace the existential reality of your own frailty and choose. Be like Neo in the third Matrix movie that had way too much CG for its time, but still lots of action when he says, “Because I choose to.” Choose, choose. Now. Haven’t got all day. Maybe you do, I don’t. Click, click, click,
click, click, click, click. Okay.