52 | The Wider Picture

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
(John 17:20-21)

Just before Jesus was to be arrested and crucified he prayed this prayer in the hearing of his disciples. He said the unity we show is key to our witness: people will believe our message because of it.

That’s how the early church lived: they were one in heart and soul. They had favour with everyone, and every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. They displayed unity between God and His people, unity between churches and unity within each church.

Paul modelled the many levels of relationship and cooperation common in the early church. He supported and encouraged leaders he didn’t meet often and wrote to churches he loved but hadn’t visited. He also had deeper partnerships with an inner circle of workers and Churches. Here there was deep honesty, complete trust, and an interchange of personnel and financial resources.

Of course there are now a bewildering number of denominations and streams. While we have varying callings and theology there is much to be gained through a mutual encouragement and cooperation that recognises and champions the distinctive gift of each church to the wider body of Christ. There are great dangers in isolationism and we must trust that a right level of interaction will enrich, rather than dilute.

 

Discussion:
What is God doing between churches that He may want us to be involved with?

What do you appreciate in other church streams that could enrich us?

What gifts do we have that could enrich other churches?

 

Scriptures:
John 17, Acts 20:17-38, Philippians 1:5-7

 

Wednesday 22 to Tuesday 28 March 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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51 | A Visible Presence

We sometimes don’t realise how dark it is in a room until someone switches on a light and everything is suddenly much clearer. Humanity is stumbling around in the dark, not realising how different their lives would be if they would just let the light enter in. The light that Jesus brings into our lives shows us who we really are and leaves no area still in darkness. This is sometimes an uncomfortable process, but ultimately brings us true freedom.

Jesus is “the true light, which gives light to everyone”. If He is the sun, we’re like the moon, because as “children of the light”, we simply reflect the light shone into our lives. We are called to point people towards Jesus, so it’s important that we aren’t ashamed of our identity, that we try to hide or dim our light.

We are also called to be “salt of the earth”, an expression that in the English language has strayed from its roots and come to describe anyone who is “reliable or trustworthy” – a decent, good person. Our most common use for salt these days is obviously a seasoning for food – something that enhances the flavour of our meals, but it was often used as a preserving agent to prevent decay. In the same way, we’re called to be much more than “decent” people (though that definitely comes into it), we are to represent Jesus and show the world what the power of His saving grace can do in their lives.

 

Discussion:
Read this together and discuss:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

It’s quite common to talk about being “a light to the world”, but what does it really mean to be “salt”? How are you doing at “seasoning your conversations with salt”?
Action:
Think about what makes your faith “visible” and make an effort to show it to those you see during the week who don’t know Jesus.
Scriptures:
Psalm 107:4-7, Matthew 5:13-16, John 1:9, Acts 4:13,, 2 Corinthians 2:15 Philippians 2:15, Colossians 4:61 Thessalonians 5:5

 

Wednesday 15 to Tuesday 21 March 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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50 | Accessible

Jesus helped others grasp the Kingdom of Heaven by likening it to a warm meal with a generous host at a table with endless seating. Jesus is the bread, lamb and wine of the feast, and he’s also the master of ceremonies. He’s both the provider and the provision, he gives us himself.

Now all of us who have entered and enjoyed this feast become like Jesus. He sends us out as servants like himself, urging us to “compel people to come in, that my house may be filled”.

An invitation to meet Jesus is at the heart of outreach, and this is what Church is like at its best: an invitation to a free feast, accessible and welcoming.

“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”
(D.T. Niles)

“Come and see”, we say. All are invited to the banquet, many are loved, and some are chosen to receive and enjoy Jesus. This is a process that we’d do well to recognise and do our best to help: when people feel they belong to us some will believe, finding saving faith, and over time become changed disciples, partly supernaturally, partly through conscious choices.

 

Discussion:
Briefly describe how you found Jesus.

As we invite people to come and see Jesus what practical things can we do to “prepare the banquet”?

What spiritual things can we do to “prepare the banquet”?

In the process of helping people belong, believe and become, where do we most often flub it? What can you do to change this?

Action:
Who do you know who’s on the way to Jesus? Pray for them now, then invite them to something.

Scriptures:
Matthew 9:36, John 1:35-39, John 1:45-46, John 7:37, Luke 14:16-24

 

Wednesday 8 to Tuesday 14 March 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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