Commitment to the church is something that we Christians take very seriously. We use language of possession when we have committed our lives to a particular faith community. We go to “our church”, we welcome you to “our church”, we spend “our money” on church activities, we bake “our best pie”, we share “our gifts”, and we even proclaim this place we love as “our church home.” These ideas of “our”-ness commit us deeply to the experience of church. In and of themselves, being in “our” church isn’t bad…to a point.
The church was never meant to belong to any one person or another, nor are any of the resources owned by any one person. For the very word “church” is “ecclesia”, meaning “assembly” or “gathering.” That means every time the assembly gathers, the “church” is redefined and recreated. Resources that live in a building or property were left by previous ecclesia, and therefore “owned” by none, but utilized by all. So, when we talk about commitment to ecclesia, our commitment is to the assembly gathered…in whatever form or fashion that may be. It’s not a commitment to what’s ours. It’s a commitment to what God has brought together each and every time we gather.
**In the New Testament letters, there are dozens of “one another” commands of Christians, with this very notion in mind.
Rom.12:10 “be devoted to one another”
Rom. 12:10 “give preference to one another”
Rom. 12:16 “be of the same mind toward one another”
Rom. 13:8 “love one another”
Rom. 14:19 “build up one another”
Rom. 15:7 “accept one another”
Rom. 15:14 “admonish one another”
Rom. 16:16 “greet one another”
1 Cor. 12:25 “have the same care for one another”
Gal. 5:13 “serve one another”
Eph. 4:2 “show tolerance for one another”
Eph. 4:32 “be kind to one another”
Eph. 5:21 “be subject to one another”
Phil. 2:3 “regard one another as more important than yourselves”
Col. 3:13 “bear with one another”
Col. 3:13 “forgive one another”
1 Thess. 4:18 “comfort one another”
1 Thess. 5:11 “encourage one another”
1 Thess. 5:13 “live in peace with one another”
1 Thess. 5:15 “seek after that which is good for one another”
Heb. 10:24 “stimulate one another to love and good deeds”
James 5:16 “confess your sins to one another”
James 5:16 “pray for one another”
1 Peter 4:9 “be hospital to one another without complaint”
1 Peter 4:10 “employ your spiritual gift for one another”
1 Peter 5:5 “clothe yourselves with humility toward one another”
In addition, there are certain “one anothers” that we are commanded NOT to practice:
Rom. 14:13 “do not judge one another”
Gal. 5:26 “let us not envy one another”
Gal. 5:26 “let us not challenge one another”
Col. 3:9 “do not lie to one another”
James 4:11 “do not speak against one another”
James 5:9 “do not complain against one another”
Being the church is not about us individually – what I want, what I like, what I desire. Being the church is about the we and they – what works best for all, what compromises we can make for the good of all…whether we know everyone in the ecclesia or not. This takes humility. It takes trust. And it requires that we consider our own perspective as one of many…all with equal value.
That is not an easy task for most of us. For, in our culture, we are taught to commit to things we really BELIEVE in, or in things we can own. Ownership is contrary to the gospel…for everything belongs to God. Belief is subjective and flexible; fluctuating with experience and revelation. Rather, commit to something greater than your/our selves. Something so fluid that, with the Spirit’s leading, it changes before our very eyes. And commit not only by providing resources, but by participating constantly; for this is how we are engaged not only in observing change, but creating it.
We’re in a time of commitment at Wichita Falls MCC. We are all asked to commit to what will be our influence in the church in 2015. Pray. Ask God to reveal your part to you. Find time to reveal your belief to those who have been called to lead. Find a way to create out of your gifts. Then, create, give, and let go. For each of us is but one part of the whole and nothing we create will outlive the time God sets.
With love in Christ,
~ Pastor Mel