Last fall, I had the supreme honor of entering into a small group focused on discovering our passions. Five extraordinarily talented and beautiful ladies allowed me to gather with them over a period of 6 months to pursue God’s plan for our giftedness. Our simple desire was to serve God with the gift he had bestowed upon us. As we listened to each other’s passion we also discovered deep wounds and heart wrenching trials. As we brought each other before the Lord, a sense of peace developed in each of our hearts for what the Lord might chose to do in our lives; whether or not our giftedness was involved. Only one lady appeared to walk away with a clear “call.”
Today’s chapter in Because He Loves Me is entitled “Gospel-centered Relationships.” The church as family is described as “communal relationship.” “The New Testament church, in part because of the great persecution she faced and in part because of the familial nature of the culture, was a tightly knit family in relationship. They thought of themselves as family, as fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, living life together. In fact, the relationships they had with their Christian brothers and sisters were frequently more meaningful and binding that the ones they had with their biological families. They had a new identity, an identity defined by a common adoption. They frequently lived together or sacrificially shared their material goods, because so many had been cut off from jobs, homes, inheritances. Although it was extremely difficult for them, they knew that this was the way congregational life was to be lived out: in close, deep, biblical relationship. It is also the way that our congregational life is meant to be lived today, even though most of us aren’t suffering in the ways they were.”
Ms. Fitzpatrick is describing the Acts 2 church, the one that many of us desire to be a member of. Yet she goes on to say that this New Testament church is practically nonexistent. Though numerous groups of people meet for the purpose of deeper community and meaningful spiritual growth, “depth of biblical fellowship [is] way beyond their normal practice.”
So what is missing? If our hearts are inclined toward strong Biblical community and authentic personal change, what could possibly be deficient?
“We grow when each part is ‘working properly’….using the gifts of wisdom, insight, encouragement, confrontation, comfort, or prayer that he has supplied by his Spirit. Maturity in Christ does not occur because we attend Bible studies. Maturity in Christ occurs when, by the Spirit and in God’s grace, our brothers and sisters take biblical truth and apply it lovingly, patiently, boldly to our hearts.” (emphasis mine)
The “call” that my friend accepted from the Lord during our passion pursuit has turned out to be much different than the one she actually received. The day I learned of Tigger’s cancer, I also learned of hers. If ever there was an example for what Ms. Fitzpatrick describes above it must be contained in my friend’s words. She is, in fact, applying biblical truth to her situation, and continues to inspire me in her pursuit to
“get the truth of God’s word to people who don’t know it….
Pray with me and for me that God will accomplish every one of His good purposes for the cancer in my body. Pray that I will not fail to submit without complaint or rebellion to every part of this journey. He is altogether worthy of my explicit trust, obedience and allegiance. He has been unbelievably merciful and good to me every day of my life. He has never allowed any calamity that He did not use to enrich my life and make me more like Christ and more fit for eternal life in His kingdom.” MLJ