Values of a LIFE community 1: God’s word.
I don’t see it much these days, but whenever you visit many homes, in the past, one of those things that we used to entertain the guest with was …(guess) in many homes often kept under the table in the living room or on a shelf, The family album. We all love family albums, nowadays they are very digital. But good old family albums have a way of connecting with us, the pictures almost seem to come alive as the memories are replayed in our minds. All significant moments of history and people were captured: birthdays, travels, special friends, graduation photos, wedding, funerals, first date, first dress, first car…..
Try checking them out after church together and see what kind of conversations you will have, and what you will feel. “Look at you…you were born so chubby, oh that uncle John (RIP) he used to bring you sweets every day he would come, and that’s your cousin Macharia the one who married in the States, That’s that short classmate- yes the one who had an accent but was a chop, Remember that next door freaky guy….ah I had he sold off his property and wasted it drinking, Yeah this is, well was my best friend in High school, I wonder what happened to him…. I like those moments.
While albums only capture moments and special days, they are a way in which we speak in time and we are recorded in history. When we die someday, everyone wants to say “I was here.”
Pst. Bob started the year by reminding us on our foundations as a LIFE community as he unfolded the theme of the year … Renewing LIFE communities drawn from Eph 4:16, (Read). As part of our desire to renew our intimacy as a community with the Lord, in this valentine month we will be looking at Values of a LIFE community.
In today’s fast world, It is possible that even as Christians we may have or can forget who we are and where we come from, hence our values too have waned. Today as a LIFE community we slow down; we slow down to cuddle in the family couch and look at our family album. I need to correct that we slow down to look for our family Album. Because for some of us it may be gathering dust or forgotten in the basement. Because while it has our stories, it has the greater story of whom we belong to and whose we are.
But what can we compare God’s word to, while in a family album everyone says I was here, in this LIFE Community Album God’s word, God says “I am still and always will be here” and there is much more I want to show you. As Jer 29:13, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. So let’s start the Album at the beginning:
Scripture Reading: John 1:1-18
A brief background of the book of John will help us to appreciate this text better. Too often confused that the four gospels are merely chronological records of the life of Jesus on earth, each of them had a unique audience and purpose. The gospel of John was written to an elite audience of the Greek/Jewish philosophical world who debated a lot on knowledge and life. In fact these themes characterize the book a lot. John the writer was very intentional and purposeful in this book.
He picks seven specific events around the life of Jesus on earth: The changing of water to wine, healing of royal official’s son, healing lame man, feeding of five thousand, walking on water, healing of the blind and raising of Lazarus. These miracles John writes to his elite Greek- Jewish audience simply for them to ask the question “who is this man who can do all these things? Master over quality, distance, time, quantity, natural laws, misfortune, death, yet so human, so real so close?
Who is this man Jesus? The answer and purpose of the book therefore is summarized in chapter 20:30-31. These (signs) are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing in Him you may have LIFE in His name.
This passage- Opening of John is profound and full of meaning and with all humility I will attempt to bring out some lessons for us today.
In the beginning was the word- It begins with someone being referred to as the word? In Jewish thought, the word of God was the way God communicated himself the “The Great I am” which you will also note is the same thing that is said in Genesis but also in this book- e.g. I am the way. In Greek thought the word was the central idea that holds the universe together the thing that makes everything makes sense or have meaning. He affirms that the Word was God Himself. And was with God- shared a very unique fellowship with God, And everything there is was made through him, the creator and sustainer. In other words bio-life came to be through him, but also verse 4- In him was LIFE, and that LIFE was the light of men.
I have two thoughts to share with us today as we think of renewing a LIFE Community
Read vs. 4-5
First is that as a LIFE community- One of our highest values is to treasure God’s word.
A few things to mention here, Jesus is referred to here as the word. Who is God and through Him everything is and in Him LIFE is. Notice also verse 14- The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
This is a vast thought to comprehend, even for our minds to contain. This same word is what gave light to the world yet was rejected by the world of men, because they could not understand it.
God in His wisdom saw it best to capture this great mystery and knowledge of himself in human words and language that could be recorded and passed on from generations of men. It’s like He has taken pictures of Himself and compiled an album for us. All this He purposed so that people would know Him intimately so that we can experience the Special LIFE in Him.
Allow me to make a distinction here between the Bible and the word of God. While the Bible is a collection of books, an album so to speak of God, it contains the texts which reveal the Word, who is Jesus….who is the light of men and in Him is LIFE. In other words, the word of God is a way in which God has used to show us bits and pieces like a puzzle, surely 66 books cannot contain the almighty God. But the text is the way and the place he has given us to begin.
• If you knew or appreciated that God “has gone through” for lack of better words all this in the attempt for us to know him, how would you relate with your Bible. God wants us to know him more than we think we want to know him. God’s word must remain a sacred responsibility and time
• The source of renewal for a LIFE community must begin by a passionate and zealous search for God’s LIFE through His word. As the rain falls down and refreshes the earth, what will renew our communities, our families, our relationships our society, begins when we learn to slow down, sit humbly in anticipation and give ourselves to study God’s word, because the treasure of LIFE will be found.
• For this reason we have started our BS service. We don’t experience His LIFE too often because we simply sometimes lack the discipline to seek him. The morning rush- bible sms text, snippet devotionals on the go will not just do it. We must find time for God’s word in our lives, homes and society.
• Any other path falls short of this search. Even John himself came only to testify, he was not the light of the world. I need to warn here that your own engagement with God’s word is vital, a pastor, a preacher, a devotional shares only as a witness, but you must embark on this journey on your own. Too many Christians deceived and shallow in their faith because they depend not on the word of God but the word of the prophet or pastor.
My second point is this- God’s WORD is LIFE
But why is it difficult sometime to know God despite the fact that I read my Bible, on everyday basis. Just as the children of the Israel read the scriptures, they got the law but missed the heart of the law. Please note the Bible, speaks of Jesus who is the WORD and in him was LIFE and that LIFE was the light of men.
It is easy to get lost or even tired, when we make the Bible a search for nuggets of wisdom for life, or a source to enable or motivate or defend my personal ambitions or to prove head knowledge or to even try to explain my personal experience. But it is thoroughly refreshing when we lay aside all these ambitions and simply seek Him.
The Word is LIFE not somewhere we get LIFE and go. So I need here to conclude by trying to understand what this word LIFE means. In simple language- Swahili has 3 of them- Uzima, Uhai and Maisha. Now which of these 3 do you think LIFE refers to? We often misunderstand Jesus to give us health, LIFE style- so when we don’t get we wonder, but when we find Him, we find “wholeness”, Uzima we find LIFE.
Next time you dive into the Album, slow down long enough until you actually see Him, as the song says “there is no greater thing, no greater pursuit than to find Him.
As a LIFE community we must value and treasure God’s word, Study it, Seek Him and by His spirit He will help us find Him and when we do we find LIFE and just wait and see what will happen to our community, our families, our society….
Stand and call music team- Ps 119: 97-104 say together- Knowing you (song)