Blame You

Christ’s commands us to love each other. It’s such a simple rule and yet we can’t do it without him. This is why he calls it a new command even though it was the one the Jews had heard from the beginning. Christ came to love and he left a community of love which he expected to remain and spread. Praise the Lord it has! On the night of his betrayal, Christ prayed that we would be one so that the Father would be glorified in the Son.

Conversely, this world and its Prince continue to conspire against God’s project by sowing bitterness among God’s people. In Ephesians 4:26, Paul warns his audience to forgive quickly lest they give the devil (blamer) a foothold among them. Nothing arrests our progress toward oneness like bitterness. When a fellow believer does something careless or even malicious (as will inevitably happen), we must at the foot of the cross offer them forgiveness. Why? Because mercy lives at the foot of the cross. In order to harbor bitterness, we must abandon the hope of our own forgiveness and flee the cross for exile in the solitary seat of judgment. In that realm “they” come to offer us aid and comfort as they help us build our case against our offenders and eventually the entire world.

Though this demonic program carries especially grievous implications for the believing community, every person on the planet has encountered it. The animated feature, “Meet the Robinsons,” offers one of the most poignant examples of the dynamics of bitterness and its power to ruin lives. At the end of the clip, the advice, “Let it go and keep moving forward,” is useful if we can understand where we can let it go to and which direction is “forward.” Those answers have been released in the gospel of Christ.

5 POP’s

Jesus not only commanded his disciples to make disciples, in Matthew 10 and Luke 10 he also gave them his method for doing so. Neil Cole relates Jesus’ method as the 5 POP’s in his book, Organic Church.  I’ve found these to be a very helpful framework on which to hang and a myriad of disciplemaking activities.  I hope you will too.

1. Practice of Prayer – The church is conceived in heaven before it is born on earth. If we are going to see churches planted and reproduced, we must plead with the Lord of the Harvest for everything we need – guidance, opportunities, boldness, the words to say, signs and wonders following, etc. Organic Church Planting is not a formula that works according to predictable outcomes. It’s a partnership with God to carry out his Great Commission.
2. Pockets of People – The approach to church planting as presented in Scripture had entire households (oikoi) in view. An oikos is a web of relationships. Every person (except the Unibomber) has one. As disciplemakers, we need to intentionally consider who in our oikos needs to hear the saving message of Jesus and begin praying for them. If we’ve reached our oikos or been rejected by it, we should find another Pocket of People that will accept us and begin prayerfully reaching them.
3. Power of Presence – They say 90% of baseball is showing up. That’s the case with disciplemaking.  We don’t have to hide from dark places; we must invade them with the confidence that “Where we go the King goes and where the King goes people bow.” If we partner with Jesus to make disciples we will find ourselves knee deep in the dirt of broken lives.
4. Person of Peace – In an oikos there is often a particular person that God has prepared the be the agent of the gospel for the rest of the group. This person is usually either the best person in the group such as with Cornelius in Acts 10 or the worst person such as with the Samaritan woman in John 4. We should look for this person. They will be receptive to the gospel at some point. Once they come to faith, we should equip them to reach the rest of their oikos. Their transformation will awaken others by demonstrating the saving power of the gospel.
5. People of Purpose – Once several in the oikos have been reached they should begin to gather as a spiritual family on mission for God. They should be taught to support and challenge each other to live in obedience to their king and to spread the knowledge of his kingdom reign into other oikoi.

As a parting shot, I want add a sixth POP – Probability of Pain.  Disciplemaking is an act of war.  Those who engage in it will experience the harship, hurt, and harm common to soldiers on active duty.  Before we set out, we should count the cost associated with victory.  If you can do anything else, you probably should.

Mismatch

So, I was walking around my office and praying for the church the other day when this box of matches caught my eye.  I felt God’s Spirit say, “This is the church.”

Jesus wants his people to light the world.  We won’t if we remain confined together.  To reach ignition, we have to make contact with the world and face a little friction.

Of course it’s safer for the match in the box, but the match wasn’t designed to remain in the box.  Nor was the box designed to preserve the matches.  The box is simply a convenient container with which to carry and deliver the light-bringing potential resident within each match.  So it is with the church.  We should gather, but our gatherings must never become an end in themselves.  Instead, every believer present at a gathering should feel tension to engage those in his or her sphere of influence with the expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Hebrew writer said it this way:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV

A disciple of Jesus Christ whose whole attention is on the rest of the church is out of sync with his purpose.  He’s not a match.  He’s a mismatch.