Oct 15, 2020.
Sometimes we get confused about what it means to be in the family of God. We come by this confusion naturally; it is an understandable occurrence in this ‘age of reason’ in which we live. Thankfully, our Lord clarifies it for us:
#JesusStories: Luke 8 tells of a day Jesus was speaking to the crowd, and his mother and brothers came to check on him. However, they couldn’t get to Jesus because the crowd was pressing in on him. So they sent word to Jesus that they were in the crowd and wanted to see him. What Jesus did next was surprising; he used the opportunity to make a HUGE point. He said, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” After making his point, I’m sure Jesus made his way toward his family, though Luke did not include it.
This was early on in Jesus’ ministry, and already he was calling for people to rearrange their schedules around his words. Many today would think this reveals Jesus’ authority to expect obedience. However, there was something else going on. In the world of the Hebrews, there was no separation between a thought and a deed. In other words, no one would talk of a thought until the corresponding deed was visible. This idea still stands today in the right-of-passage tradition for a 12-year old Jewish male called the Bar Mitzvah. Interestingly, the word mitzvah means ‘a prayer in the form of a deed’. In our Greek-based culture, this is an odd idea. Either someone is praying or they are doing a deed; prayers and deeds are separate ideas. But in the Hebrew understanding they are fused as two sides of the same coin. So when Jesus was telling the people to “act on it”, he was was punctuating that the new inbreaking kingdom teaching was SO TRUE, that he and his disciple-family would align their behaviors to whatever was needed to advance it. In other words, they were putting their money and their time where their mouth was. And these ones repeating the kingdom–advancing behaviors were the ones Jesus called family. Wow!
This is a significant challenge today. True to our Greek roots we have carved out a state of salvation that has little corresponding actions. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that anyone who even calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! And those individuals are immediately adopted into the family of God. So this is not a conversation about who will be in heaven; it is a conversation about who will be able to work with Jesus in bringing the kingdom of heaven upon the earth. Receiving salvation does not require works, but advancing the kingdom of Christ does. Most Christians today are being directed to be ‘students of the scriptures’ rather than ‘re-enact the works of Jesus’. Eleven percent of the gospel verses were written while Jesus was with the marginalized; eight percent of the verses captured Jesus doing healings and miracles. Is your time in the word of God leading you to be with the poor? To pray for healings and miracles? To re-enact the behaviors of Jesus we see repeated over and over again in the gospels? I propose that we need a new definition of Christlikeness – one based on what Jesus did with his time, rather than one based on the scriptures we’ve studied and verses we’ve memorized. But to the ones working hard to advance the kingdom of heaven in the likeness of Jesus, He was quick to call them family.
#DinnerChurchQuotes: “Sorry, we are not going to fix the world with speeches from platforms; we must embrace the relational work of gathering around tables.” –Dan white
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.