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Tag: relationships

Mat-Man and His Friends

This week I had a zoom meeting with about a dozen other pastors. I think I’ve mentioned to you before that every few months I get together the other AGC pastors in central Alberta and we share a little bit about what’s going on in our churches, we pray for each other, and we discuss a whole variety of different issues that come up.

And at our meeting this week, the question was asked: What do you think God is saying to the churches through this COVID-19 pandemic? Is God using this time to reshape how we think about church? Is He using this time to re-adjust our priorities and our focus? God doesn’t waste opportunities, so what do you think God wants us to learn through this challenging time?

There were several thoughts that came up, but the one that stuck out to me was this: Could it be that God is reminding us of the value of relationships?

In this time where everyone is separated and isolated from one another – could God be using this time to show us just how critical it is be be connected with one another? 

The fact is, we are built for relationships! And I know I say that often – but it’s true! We are created and designed to live in healthy relationships with each other and with God.

Without those relationships – we wither and die inside. And perhaps some of us are feeling a little bit of that now. Being apart from our families, not having that personal interaction with our friends – being absent from our church family – it’s hard. It doesn’t feel right! There’s almost an emptiness we feel when we go so long being apart from one another.

And that’s because we were created for community – community with each other and community together with God. Separation and isolation were never part of God’s perfect plan for mankind.

I was reminded this week that Hell is defined by separation and isolation from God. It’s the worst possible scenario! 

But in contrast to that, Heaven is being together with God. It’s being in his presence – seeing him face-to-face. That’s what we long for and hope for more than anything else in this world!

And I think that just speaks to this truth that we are created for community – we are created for relationships with each other and with God!

And perhaps God is using this pandemic to remind us of that and to give us a fresh, new understanding of that reality!

So with that in mind this morning, I want to look at the story of “Matman” and his friends! Not “Batman and his friends” but Matman and his friends.

And if you’re not familiar with that story, you can find it in Luke chapter 5 or it’s also recorded in Mark chapter 2. I’m going to read from Mark chapter 2 this morning. It goes like this:

 1 When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. Mark 2:1-2a

And I’ll pause her for a minute just to give you a little bit of the background here. This is fairly early on in Jesus earthly ministry. He’s been going around to different towns throughout the region of Galilee preaching and teaching, doing miracles, healing people, and over-all, just attracting a lot of attention. Everyone’s hearing about this amazing Jesus fellow. And that’s why, when he comes back to his hometown of Capernaum, everybody wants to come see Jesus. He’s kinda like a celebrity at this point. They want to hear what he has to say and perhaps see him to a miracle or two! 

And because of that, the house where he was staying was packed with visitors – so full in fact, that people were backed up – right out the door! On sermon I read described the house as being “packed tighter than a hippo in skinny jeans!” (Try to visualize that, if you can.) But you can just imagine everyone being squished together – shoulder to shoulder – all trying to get inside the house to get a glimpse of Jesus!

And that’s what’s going on when Matman and his friends arrive. It says in verse 2…

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Discipleship in Community

For the past two weeks we’ve been looking at our mission as followers of Jesus Christ to be and to make disciples. And I know this isn’t the first time most of us have looked at this issue of discipleship. I think most of us understand that one of our main goals as his followers, is to help people trust and follow Jesus. I mean, Jesus’ command to his original followers makes our objective pretty clear. Matthew 28:18 says…

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

So the objective is pretty clear, but what’s not as clear, is exactly how we are supposed to do that. The end goal is pretty obvious – the “how to get there” is not so specific.

And so to find the “how”, we’ve been looking at the Biblical patterns and the models for discipleship. How did Jesus do it? How did the early church do it? How did Paul & Timothy and all those guys do it? How did they do it back in the Old Testament? And how can we do it today?

How do we help people trust and follow Jesus?

Well, we’ve found that discipleship happens in five different contexts. There are five types of relationships that all contribute to the disciple-making process.

We’ve identified these contexts as the public context, the social context, the personal context, the transparent context, and the divine context. And of course, we’re not going to find a verse that lists these five contexts for making disciple – but throughout the Bible we can see that God uses these 5 different contexts to help people trust and follow Him.

And so our goal for these next few weeks is to understand how God works in these contexts so that we can maximize our efforts in our own discipleship and in the discipleship of others.

Last week we looked at the public context. And the public context is defined as 100s of people gathering together around a shared resource – this could be thousands of fans at football game or a hundred people on a flight to Edmonton, or a youtube video seen by millions or what the church is most commonly known for – a bunch of people gathering for the Sunday morning worship service.

And we discovered that the public context really isn’t well suited for building personal relationships, but it is well suited to conveying information and sharing stories with large groups of people. Jesus certainly made use of this context as he preached to the crowds and did miracles and told parables. That was all done in groups of 100s or 1000s and it was certainly significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus.

And so following that pattern, we determined that the Sunday morning service can be a place where people experience inspiration to keep serving Jesus – We are motivated, persuaded, encouraged, influenced, moved, stirred, spurred on, energized, and awakened. We also get a sense of movementum (That’s movement and momentum jammed together) as we see that God is at work all around us. And then, through preaching and teaching, we are reminded that everything revolves around God – this is ultimately His story and we get to be a part of it.

And so certainly the public context can be very significant in helping people trust and follow Jesus. But of course, that can’t be the only context. We would miss out on so much if that was the only place where we were discipled. And as we are going to discover today, we would have a really hard time making new disciples if that was the only context where we contributed to the discipleship of others.

And so on that note, today we are going to look at the social context.

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