Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Community of Feasting

I am still thinking about church. My ideas and questions have plateaued for a while. The concepts are still there. Church is community. Church is the Bride of Christ. Church is for edification. The Church must preach the gospel to every creature.

Two of my heroes are Jim and Elisabeth Elliot. Their words so perfectly express Christian truths. I am always challenged by the things they wrote. What's more, their lives back up their admonitions. I found this quote by Jim about church: “The pivot point hangs on whether or not God has revealed a universal pattern for the church in the New Testament. If He has not, then anything will do so long as it works. But I am convinced that nothing so dear to the heart of Christ as His Bride should be left without explicit instructions as to her corporate conduct. I am further convinced that the 20th century has in no way simulated this pattern in its method of ‘churching’ a community . . . it is incumbent upon me, if God has a pattern for the church, to find and establish that pattern, at all costs” (Shadow of The Almighty: Life and Testimony of Jim Elliot).

A few years ago I started to do a Bible study of worship. It seemed to me that something so important could not have been overlooked by God. I also guessed that He would care how He was worshiped. Truth be told, I got bogged down in the endless supply of verses dealing with worship and praise and singing and bowing. Apparently, God has a lot to say about how we worship. The same is true, I believe, of Church.

One of the most vivid lessons I've ever had was taught by a man in a Bible study I attended. He put up a white board and, holding the marker up in his right hand, asked for us to list all the things wrong with the church. After we'd exhausted our many complaints, he erased it. "Good. Now forget all those things." And then he asked what a bride should be. He received various responses from "beautiful" to "economical" to "barefoot." Finally he pulled up another whiteboard and had us list what the church should be. Then he put the two boards side by side. If the Church is the Bride of Christ, shouldn't we be expecting some bride-like behavior?

R.C. Sproul, Jr. and his Highland Study Center sent out an article in their bi-monthly magazine about feasting. If the Lord's Supper is a preview of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, as indicated by Jesus' comments about when He would again drink wine, shouldn't it be an all-out feast? Shouldn't we celebrate? The medeival and ancient understanding of feasting has been all but lost in our American culture. But think of any medeival feast about which you may have read. Singing. Dancing. Laughter. Platter after platter of delicious food. Smells of delicious food. Colorful fruit and costumes. Conversation that is witty and kind. Don't you think the Church should be doing that?

Do you know how many times joy is addressed in the Bible? I don't; I haven't counted. But I know it is often discussed.

Rom 12:9-15
"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil;
cleave to that which is good.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."

To God be all glory.

No comments: