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Monday, February 14, 2011

There Are Two Kinds of Christians...

In reading Acts 13:1-5, it becomes clear that there are two kinds of Christians: those who are sent and those who commission and support those who are sent. The Holy Spirit chose Barnabas and Saul to be sent (literally called apostles) and that the rest, including Simon, Lucius, and Manaen who were leaders, were to stay behind to build up the body of believers there. They were the supporters of the sent. The sent and the supporters of the sent; two kinds of Christians.


Over the years we've considered missionaries and evangelists to be people who travel to other places to people that we or they don't know in order to share the good news. But what does it mean in our world today where we don't have to go to another country or people in order to be sent to someone else with the gospel? Today to be sent means to go talk to a neighbor, co-worker or someone in our own family.

Aren't we all called to be two different kinds of Christians at the same time or at least at different times in our lives? Sometimes we are the sender and sometimes we're the sent. Unfortunately many of our churches are filled with those who don't believe they are sent to their neighbor or friend or family member or co-worker. Their faith is too "private" for all that.

The most dynamic, growing congregations in my experience are those where there are people who are constantly sharing their faith and their church with others that they know or meet in their daily lives. And then there is the need for those who are providing the support--not just for the senders but the whole congregation to keep growing senders and the sent.

We're all the sent--telling others about Jesus or at least where they can find Jesus (hopefully in our churches!). We're all the supporters of the sent--doing our part in the life of the Christian community so that all experience opportunities for Christian formation--no matter how old or young, Christian community that is open to new people and changed by them, and opportunities to grow toward God and others.


But then, you have to consider the end of this chapter that finds Paul and Barnabas forced out of town because some were afraid that "their precious way of life was about to be destroyed" by this message of Jesus.


What is your "precious way of life" that might be destroyed if you truly shared your faith and your church with others? Might we lose control over what happens there--the style of music/worship, the decisions made about what it means to be church, who comes to church and who gets attention that might be lavished on ourselves?



WDYT?

8 comments:

Gary Korsgaden said...

Gary Korsgaden shares: We must ask ourselves, "how do others see us outside the church" do we live in accordance with God always the focus? Or do do we park our faith at the church doorstep when we leave on Sunday morning. Are we afraid to share our faith and church for the fear of losing our "worldly idenity" then being harshly judged by others. We need to be consistent inside and outside the church walls. Sharing our faith with others is critically important. It is only human nature that those outside the faith-church will closely scrutinize and judge us on our actions,ask yourself am I the same person inside the church walls as I am and demonstrate by my actions in the world. It is my nature to be cautious of those that wear their "faith-religon" on their sleeves. However, realizing the importance of being bold in sharing our faith, a display of faith with sound actions and daily practice does wonders for credibility.

Kurt Johnson said...

Great commentary - and what people sometime don't realize is "the sent" can be our children. When our children feel great about being part of the community of believers, they sometimes are more effective at reaching out than the adults are. Our son handed out several camping brochures today, including extras to classmates who went to camp with him last year, to pass out to additional friends.

"The Sent", "It only takes a Spark", "Here I am, Send me", all say the same thing.....

Anonymous said...

You really hit a couple nerves.. "controlling" We have those. We had a Pastor once who called them "the faithful." I remember about 20 years ago thinking someone in the church I attended was controlling, until I found her on her hands and knees scrubbing out the stalls in the church bathroom She was at least 85 at the time, the church matriarch. I can't tell you how my attitude, respect, admiration changed. She must have known it, for our whole relationship changed to smiles and greetings. Well, now I'm really close to being the elderly one in the church and wonder if the young people think I am "Controlling." I know one who does. Do you think her attitude would change if I scrubbed a few bathrooms?
The second "nerve" ... music and worship. I had the music all planned.. everything was changed... I was hurt. "Am I becoming controlling?" I thought.
Thank you for your blog. I feel better now. I think in our love for each other in the church, no matter what the age, there should also be humility. I am learning. As I age, I think I am sent to be a "sower" and I will let the Lord make it grow.

Russ said...

I agree with Bishop Sally's commentary. An observation: In our congregation, it doesn't seem like we are comfortable talking about our spiritual lives among ourselves as church family. I wonder if learning to do this would help us learn to speak to our friends who don't yet know Christ. Also, I think it would be helpful to hear more positive examples of how people talk about Jesus in everyday ways. As one coming from an evangelical tradition, I see all sorts of Christians rightly turned off to approaches to evangelism that come across as pushy or self-righteous. I was talking with one of our lay people today. Her observation is that we need to help people see that evangelism can take many forms that more fit their gift mix and personality.

Brent Olson said...

We have one member of our church who, when we sing a hymn out of the new little black supplemental hymnal, stands with her arms crossed and her mouth shut.

For myself, I've discovered that whereas I always have an idea for how things should be done, it's not always a good idea and I need to shut up and let some other ideas filter through...


True church is a dangerous place and most people cringe from danger.

Lausten North said...

I find passages like this some of the most troubling. It is easier for me to take Moses killing 3,000 and putting that in historical context than it is to hear Paul being called a blasphemer (KJV). Probably because today we need to exist in a marketplace full of ideas on how to live out the “golden rule”, and full of people who are aware of many other traditions that have a similar rule as well as those who just understand it without needing to attach it to a source. You can’t say much without someone calling you a heretic or politically incorrect.

I am lucky to be in a church that handles its diversity pretty well, with the usual minor control issues of course. I tend to be the one who brings in something threatening, such as Liberation Theology or quotes from Paul Tillich or Abraham Heschel. Some are accepting but others retreat into quoting Timothy 3:16, a passage supporting Biblical inerrancy. I find this isolating, a way of taking our faith and creating walls around it. I believe we can find a way to participate in the marketplace of ideas and still be true to our cultural heritage.

Robert2 said...

I think there are different ways to serve and live your faith. Not different kinds of Christians. No two Christians are exactly a like ans not two people are exactly a like. Some live the sermon on the mount. Some preach it. Some do both, all are Christians, they are in different places on their path. I knew a lady that live to be 104 years old. The last time I talked to her she told me all she could do now was pray. She was truly a Christian she was doing what she could do.

Anonymous said...

Sharing the gospel with those who know us best is the most difficult. They know all about us!

I don't like change. I prefer traditional worship, with the old familiar hymns. At my church, the non-traditional service is the most popular with my fellow baby boomers. One of them said recently how nice it was to replace "those worn out hymns" with contemporary Christian music.

I suppose it's that I fear change.