I want to start this entry with a disclaimer â€“ This post is written in the middle of my thought process. I havenâ€™t drawn any firm conclusions yet. The purpose for the entry is to get some of this stuff out of my head and on to my computer screen. I also want to welcome you into this discussion with me. So read, think about it, and respond if you feel so led.
This past weekend my church went on a retreat to Luther Park Retreat Center in Danbury, WI (I highly recommend Luther Park for smaller retreats). Dr. Jim King and his wife Carol came along and led our teaching/discussion times. The theme for our times centered on the question, â€œWhat are we inviting people into?â€ The â€œweâ€ in this question being however you classify people outside of knowing Jesus Christ as their Lord & Savior â€“ â€œunsavedâ€, â€œnon-believerâ€, etc. Think about that question for a minute â€“ â€œWhat are you inviting people into?â€ If someone asks you â€œWhat does it mean to be a Christian, born-again believer, etc?â€ How do you answer? What do you communicate to them?
I think the clearer question we entered into this past weekend was this â€“ â€œWhat does being a Christian mean for this life?â€ If Christianity is only about heaven after we die, what do we do until then? Hang out or live life in some kind of holding pattern? Are there any benefits for following Jesus on earth? Now let me clearly say that I believe heaven is a part of all of this. Heaven certainly is good news! But is it the only good news for this life?
Having had a couple of days now to digest our discussions (everyone had unbelievable thoughts to give) and reflect on the Scriptures we read such as John 10 & 17, places in Ephesians, Philippians, Romans, and Acts, let me share what I am thinking right nowâ€¦
I believe we are inviting people into an eternal relationship with God (The Father, Son, & Spirit) as Father, friend, brother, Lord, Savior, Counselor, & Lover. Eternal life is knowing God intimately in a highly relational & intimate way. To become a Christian is an invitation into communion with God. It is also an invitation into communion with the family of God. To become a child of God means you now have brothers & sisters. We have the ability to enter into intimacy with other humans that somehow reflects the unity and love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Much of the New Testament epistles deal with the relationship between the children of God. Thirty-seven one-another commands to be exact. Jesus even says in John 17 that they (the world) will know the love of the Father based on how we treat each other.
So here is where Iâ€™m at right now. More realistically, here are the questions I am working through right now. If I am inviting people into intimacy with God and intimacy with the family of God, how do I assist people in living that out or understanding the full reality of such a wonderful thing? How do I help someone know what it means to walk with God as Enoch did? How does the Garden Communities create environments for community and intimacy? How does the GC have community & intimacy with those that are a part of it, but also is inviting and welcoming of others to join in? The danger with creating intimate community gatherings is sometimes it is extremely hard for those entering in to feel welcome, etc.? Where is the balance? How do you achieve that balance?
So these are thoughts & questions running through my mind currently? Any responses? Are others asking these questions?