Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Three Priorities For 2014: 1 - Encouraging The Body Of Christ

Yesterday I wrote:
Given my beliefs, abilities, interests, position and location, it seems that as of now, the best uses of Elwin Green in Homewood will be:
  • Encouraging fellow members of the Body of Christ,
  • Growing businesses, and
  • Redeveloping Race Street
...and I promised to outline projects and processes related to those priorities. Today, I'll talk about the first one, encouraging fellow members of the Body of Christ.

But first, this point: all three priorities are place-specific. All are part of my evolving answer to the question, "What does it mean to live in a place?" (as opposed to just sleeping there at night, for instance). For me, living in Homewood means pursuing the three priorities in Homewood.

Underlying the first priority is a desire for the rest of my life: to live out my faith in unity with other believers who live within walking distance.

I feel like I'm being radical when I say that, for several reasons. First of all, Western Christianity has been so co-opted by individualism that the idea of living out one's faith in unity with other believers is culturally heretical. Second, living out my faith in unity with believers who live within walking distance means going outside the construct of congregating on Sunday morning with people who live here, there and everywhere. Third, it goes against the tendency to forego relationships with neighbors in favor of relationships with other people in our lives (co-workers, fellow students, etc.).

Radical or not, this is my plan for encouraging fellow members of the Body of Christ in Homewood, on the way to living out my faith in unity with them:

  1. Declare the word of God to them by reciting Scripture, and
  2. Pray with them.
More specifically...

1. Declare the word of God to them by reciting Scripture. Most believers, most of the time, experience Scripture as a hodgepodge of disconnected numbered sentences. We memorize and analyze fragments called "verses" with no sense of the whole from which they are taken. We listen to preaching that strings together fragments and numbered sentences to highlight a thesis or theme. In pursuit of these theses and themes, we entirely lose sight of the fact that with a couple of exceptions, each book of the Bible is one thing.

Then, as if fragmenting Scripture weren't bad enough, we flatten it. We forget, or never realize, that the passages we read were written by human beings, for human beings, not as purely doctrinal treatises, but as stories, poems, arguments, illustrations, proclamations, with questioning, cajoling, complaining, criticizing, complimenting...the full range of discourse and expression, of thought and feeling.

This fragmenting and flattening of Scripture, hideous enough on its own, is made even worse when we read Scripture publicly. In our desire to show reverence for the word of God, we read it in a way that fosters not only confusion, but boredom.

The reading or hearing of Scripture should never be boring.

I hope to counteract both tendencies - the tendency toward fragmentation and the tendency toward flattening - by inviting believers (first on Race Street, then in Homewood generally) to an interpretative reading of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians. I will recite Ephesians in its entirety, in a way intended to convey the excitement - indeed, the ecstasy - which I believe Paul experienced when he wrote it.

I plan to do that in April. Stay tuned for details.

2. To pray with them. After sharing Ephesians, I will invite believers in Homewood to our home on the last Friday evening of each month for a night of prayer, to last until 6 a.m., followed by breakfast.

That's it. I make no predictions concerning results. Planting and/or watering may be my business; bringing forth fruit is God's.

Viva in locum! (took me 'bout half an hour of resurrecting my junior high Latin to come up with that!)

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Three Priorities: The Complete Series
Three Priorities For 2014 - And Beyond
Three Priorities For 2014: 1 - Encouraging The Body Of Christ
Three Priorities For 2014: 2- Growing Businesses.
Three Priorities For 2014: 2.5 - Why Build Businesses?
Three Priorities For 2014: 2 - Growing Businesses - Legal Shield
Three Priorities For 2014: 2 - Growing Businesses - Homewood Capital Partners
Three Priorities For 2014: 2 - Growing Businesses - Luminaria Productions
Three Priorities For 2014: 3 - Redeveloping Race Street
Three Priorities For 2014: Closing Thoughts
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