Thursday, July 3, 2014

What does the Church have in common with Gilligan? PT 2

My TIE Value: Be Still in the Lord (Ps 37:7)

Last week I used the analogy of how Gilligan from the classic television show brought together an eclectic group of castaways into a community. The characters of this show only intended to spend an afternoon touring the islands. If it was not for the scenic three hour tour, they would have never ended up on the same boat (or island).

Once they had been shipped wrecked and formed the community, the castaways built bungalows that reflected their status.
-    The professor lived alone with his a full indoor / outdoor laboratory equipped with a power generator from a stationary bicycle.
-    The movie star and farmer’s daughter lived under one roof but divided by lifestyle.
-    The Millionaire couple had a multi-room mini-mansion hut. They lived very differently than the other castaways.
-    The Skipper and Gilligan made a small hut with hammock bunks that reflected life on a ship.

All along they maintained a hope that they would be rescued from the island and pined to get their lives back. Even in this fictitious community, each person chose a different way to live in their households. They had so little in common that one might wonder how they could possibly gain a Common-Unity?

While no one can please everybody, the analogy that I am left from this classic show is that everybody can find an intersection that adds relational value to the community
-    For Gilligan, he became a lab assistant to the professor.  
-    He became a son to the millionaire couple.
-    He became a test audience and an extra for the movie star.
-    He became the “man help” for the farmer’s daughter.
-    He continued to be a “Good Ole Buddy” for the Skipper.

In a community that everyone did what they were gifted and wanted to do individually, the nucleolus of community is found in the relational unity.

MY TIE: Finding God’s Power in “Common-Unity”

Being a church leader and a pastor for two decades has taught me over and over again that no one can please everybody. Here is a list of some of the ways that church leaders of all stripes try to bring their congregations together.

-          “Let’s have a blended church service with everybody’s favorite songs.”
-          “A church outing is great for church unity.”
-          “We need to find a local cause that everybody can rally behind.”
-          “A building project will improve the effectiveness of our church.”
-          “If we pray together then God will solve our problems.”

I have heard these phrases too many times. Yet the results are often a complicated mess of unintended consequences.

These antidotes do not work because there is no strength behind the facade of “Conform-Unity.” No one likes being forced to be with people they do not have a relationship with outside of a “hello” on Sunday morning.  When unity is being forced upon people there creates unintended consequences of the winners and losers due to some people will compromise more than others for the sake of peace.

Most of all the churches give birth to what will grow into the giant elephant in the church through Conform-Unity because everyone knows that their unity is faked yet whoever dares to bring it up will be villianized for bringing division.  

God strengthens His church’s unity through a “Common-Unity” and not “Common-Formity.” While the Gospel of Jesus Christ that leads to salvation from our sins is the essential element of a church community, the way that life flourishes after the Gospel depends on how a church matures in their Common-Unity.

From the pages of the New Testament, Paul’s church planting efforts are well documented.  These churches were different culturally, economically, and socially even though they believed in the same saving Gospel. While Paul did not make these churches unify through a Conform-Unity, he was tested how he would persuade these local churches to have an authentic Common-Unity during his imprisonments where only his letters can make a visit.

What are some of the evidences from Paul’s Prison Epistles an authentic “Common-Unity” that stems from the living Gospel in churches?

A Church that is…

Serving Jesus instead of Pleasing People

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)

Receiving All of God’s Spiritual Blessings

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)

Maturing Partnerships in God’s Work

I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philip. 1:3-6)

Loving All God’s People

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you (Col 1:3-6a)

While will not please all people in our churches, we can strengthen the witness of Christ in our world by showing evidences of Common-Unity rather than Common-Formity. How else can we explain such unity except through the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

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