Community

"Do you want to be made well?"

Brought in to be Healed.

What would you do? How would you react if I was completely myself?

Some of us hear "community" or "belonging" and desire it, but subconsciously we remain distant and unable to enter authentic community.

It's like a reflex.  Some things are so deep-rooted that when someone gets too close, relationally your elbows REFLEX and push people away.

Because of some hidden hurt or moment in our past we find it hard to trust.  It's almost as if we are subconsciously filled with stress, unfavourable life experiences, memories and thoughts that take up our emotional space. We end up only able to remain at the shallow end in our relationships.  

One method to healing is community.

We allow ourselves to get in touch with our fears, fears of loneliness and abandonment, fears of really loving. We allow others to love us. 

You are loved for being you.  Just who you are. But here's the catch - that can only happen if we reveal who we really are and allow other to see that by being in community. In community we are really seen, in all our perfect imperfections. The "ideal me" that we can present, any guard that might be up, ends up coming down. Now that may sound terrifying at first. But the amazing part is that if you stay in community long enough you feel SAFE to be who you are.  To say to God and to your friends "YES this is who I am." Limitations and all. You have been freed to see whatever needs to get you to where you need to be, and allowed in a community that will say "we'll get there with you!"

Do you believe you could be completely known & completely loved?

To give ourselves to the process of authentic community & receive some Holy Spirit counselling. We need to trust that God WILL LEAD US into a life more beautiful, more free - as we drop our labels - our masks.

This process of letting go of our facade, of confession & repentance, can feel a lot like falling apart at first.  You gotta want it!  You gotta want to be free!

In John 5 we read a story of a place in Bethsaida where many people who were were sick or diseased or crippled gathered.  They were gathered by a pool of water that they believed could heal them.  Whether it was folklore or myth - I don't know - when people want to go get well they'll sometimes try anything.  

Jesus sees a man & we read in verse 6:

When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

Jesus knows the landscape. He knows why people are there: for the hope of healing.  They believe there's something about this pool that could heal.  Why does Jesus ask "do you want to be well?"  Jesus knows the mans heart like he knows all our heart.  

Sometimes we can be in a place of hurt or pain or brokenness for so long that we allow it to become part of us.  Sometimes we're holding on to our pride or independence to the point where Jesus has to honestly ask us "do you want to be well?"  "Do you want to let those things go?  Or has it become what defines you?" 

"Do you want to be made well?"

There are times when our deepest longing is to hear a word from The Lord.  Beyond the muddle of all our thoughts and ideas, our brainstorming [whether good or bad] we long for an encounter with God that will BREAK THROUGH all of that & bring some clarity to life.  Bring some healing to our situation.  If we are aware of such a longing, a question we might have to ask ourselves is HOW MUCH AM I ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION?  Really.  Do I have enough space in my schedule to be able to turn aside and notice when there is something that's worthy of my attention?  Could it be because I am moving so fast that I don't have time to turn aside and look?  Do I even have mechanisms in my life that create space for paying attention, so that I don't miss the places where God himself is trying to communicate with me?

For us to take a moment and notice Him is no small thing.  In the busyness of life I need places and times to meet with Him.  

This is a rhythm we need to cultivate.  

I can be going through what seems like turmoil & someone will switch my focus to notice the "burning bushes" in my life. They'll ask me - like I want you to ask a friend - "where have you noticed God this week?"  Where have you seen him?

In the bustle of the everyday that question can actually seem unnatural - given the mood I may be in.  But I need community & friendships to focus my eyes back on the path. It's incredible what an openness to hearing that question and answering it could lead to. Before you know it the list grows and grows and the simple act of sharing these stories of God's work in our lives is causing all our hearts to come alive! By the end we become aware of a renewed sense of calling, we are convinced God was with us, and we have a news sense of direction in our lives.

TIME FOR ACTION:

Take some time this week to start the conversation with a group or a close friend "where have you noticed God this week?"

Scripture to read again:

John 5: 1-17. Jesus at the pool in Bethsaida 

Exodus 3. Moses at the burning bush. A posture of openness.

Brought in to Belong

This week we started our new message series: Stand By Me. Pastor Brock continued to build on last week's exploration of the meaning of family. 

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In the parable of the prodigal son we hear Jesus tell of a son who leaves home and spends all he has.  He leaves his sense of belonging, knowing that to leave meant being rejected by his community should he return. A display of public rejection would be made at the entrance to the town, where a large ceremonial clay pot would be broken and the community would shout “you are cut off from your people!” When he finally reaches the end of his rope he returns home, hoping to be a hired servant.

He says to himself "I know I will never belong to my family again but at least I'll have a roof over my head.  Maybe some shelter and money." He assumes that he won't be restored to a son.   He believes that part of his identity to be forever lost. 

But what do we see: a Father who comes running. A Father whose first act is to restore his son's sense of belonging. He risks ruining his reputation among his peers; he would rather not be part of his community if it means seeing his son rejected.  Above all else he wants his son to hear the words -"You belong to me, you are my son! No matter what you've done - no matter what you're going to do - you BELONG to my family."

Knowing this grace, this unconditional love, as our own opens us up to the question, "Now, how shall we live?". Grace means you have a God that gives the best of what He has regardless of how you behave. So does that knowledge draw you CLOSER to Jesus, or make you more independent? Do you allow it to affect the way you draw others in? The belonging you're able to extend to others?

Heaven comes to earth not primarily through events or conferences, God comes to earth through relationships. It's what we were intended for. 

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17: 22-23

This week as you're praying, ask yourself: "Who am I keeping?  Who am I bringing into belonging?"