Becoming, and Staying, a New Community

In the last April message on Mark 3:7-19, I referenced Jesus’ break with the Pharisaic/rabbinic synagogue community and the origins of his new community–later inaugurated as the church.  He “withdrew” from the first, followed by his disciples.  He later gathered his followers on the mountain where he designated 12 apostles, in juxtaposition to the 12 patriarchs/tribes of Israel (over whom they would rule in the Messianic Kingdom on 12 thrones).  Interestingly, the 12 patriarchs would populate their community/nation through natural birth.  The populating of the community featuring the 12 apostles is captured both in their assignment (sent forth to preach and have authority over demons) and in their new name (apostle–“one sent with a charge or commission”).   

I spoke of how this new step in Jesus’ ministry would be more visible as we proceeded through Mark, but that the differences in the character of the two communities could be summarized as follows:

The Community He Leaves               The Community He Establishes

                Defined by Rules                           Defined by Relationship

       Everyone should be the same                    Differences welcome

             Outward Conformity                         Personal Commitment

                   Fear controls                                      Love controls

Leave important matters to the experts      Everyone shares in the work

            Tradition of the Elders                           Preaching of Jesus

              Plagued by demons                            Power over demons

This is a contrast that I think we need to wrestle with.  Each generation faces a similar temptation to make God’s unique workings through his word and his power the “norm” for future generations.  A person or a ministry sees God work powerfully.  In order to further that kind of work, we ask the person to train people to do exactly what he or she did, or we make the ministry a permanent fixture of church life.  Soon, the work may no longer be taking place, but the style or ministry continue on as the normal way of doing things, and any thought of change seems sacrilegious.

What should we do?  First, we need to ask ourselves if we live as if we belong to the old or the new community.  We then need to ask if there are reasons why we continue to embrace parts of the old that were replaced by the new.  Finally, we need to ask how we can keep the experience of Jesus’ message and power from “calcifying” into a system that we perpetuate, rather than a relationship we experience and lead others to seek and experience.  I’m praying today that we will be wrestling with these thoughts.

You can find the message outline and the audio file at Grace’s website.

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 9:53 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. This was an awesome sermon–maybe my favorite in this series. The chart was powerful and really shows the true work of Jesus in contrast to the one that religion has made him out to be. Keep preaching it because it is the perfect message for our time.

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