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The Church as Community

Let’s begin with a quick exercise. The Bible uses many word pictures and metaphors to describe the church. What are some descriptions that come to your mind? What do they say about the church?

A common theme among the metaphors is the preciousness of the church. She is bought with God’s own blood (Acts 20:28). She is one body with Christ as the head, fitted and held together by the participation of each precious joint and part (Eph 4:16). The church is the household of God, a holy temple in which God’s Spirit dwells (Eph 2:19-21). She is being prepared to be the radiant bride of Christ (Rev 19:7-8).

The Bible also says many things about Christians in the church. As we come to Christ, the Living Stone, we are also like living stones built together into a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:4-5). To each Christian is given spiritual gifts for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). We are fellow children under one Father, fellow slaves under one Lord, fellow ambassadors of one gospel, fellow inheritors of the Kingdom of God together with Christ.

The church therefore is not a building, although it may meet in a building. It is not an obligation to fulfil on Sundays, Christmas and Easter. It is not a matter of picking and choosing which style or sermon suits my needs better. It is a precious, blood-bought community that centres around the worship of God and exists to the praise and glory of God. It transcends age, language, ethnicity, geography and time.

It is a life-giving community that draws its own life from Jesus and the Spirit that proclaims life to those around them.

It is a loving community that intentionally pours out love to others because it has personally experienced the radical love and grace of God.

It is a discipling community that is grounded on the Scriptures and equips each member to grow unto maturity in Christ.

It is a serving community that identifies giftings, and that provides space for each person to use their gifts to serve others. It encourages and empowers one another to fulfil their callings within church and in the world.

It is a multiplying community that seeks and supports the advancement of God’s kingdom in Singapore and beyond.

It is a Spirit-filled community that depends on the power of God and delights in the presence of God.

It is a global community where local expressions of church are joined to the worldwide body of Christ in mutual encouragement, learning and prayer.

The church, at its core, is thus a gathering of people saved by grace whose potential is greater than the sum of its parts. If you are a Christian, you have been joined to this community, this body, this building, this household whether you realize it or not. And the church does best when every joint contributes its part that it is gifted for. Will you?

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
Jonah 1:4-16; Psalm 86:11
Tue, 25 January 2022

The Fearful Men

Observation:

How did the sailors’ fear change from verse 5 to verse 16?

Deeper Reflection
THE NARRATIVE OF THE STORM AND SAILORS IS FULL OF irony and comedy. Picture the drama. The seasoned mariners were scared out of their wits (v.5). In an utter frenzy, they dumped cargo, desperately trying to save themselves. In contrast, Jonah the rebellious prophet was oblivious to the danger, sleeping in the bowels of the ship. The mariners were frantically calling out to their gods. But the prophet of the LORD was asleep. And so the flabbergasted captain came to Jonah and commanded him, “Arise, call out to your god!” (v.6). This is a parody of the divine command that Jonah rejected: arise,…and call out against Nineveh (Jon 1:2).65 After an exercise of lot-casting to determine who is responsible for the disaster, the sailors discovered that it is Jonah, who then disclosed, “I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land” (v.9). Jonah’s talk about “fear” must have sounded incredibly hollow to the sailors who knew about his wilful rebellion!66 It was them, and not the LORD’s prophet, who understood the gravity of what Jonah had done (v.10). Another irony of the story is that because of Jonah’s irreverence, the sailors came to genuinely revere his God (v.16). How about us? Are we like Jonah, professing to fear God but treating God flippantly? Pastor Timothy Keller defines the fear of the Lord as being “overwhelmed with wonder before the greatness of God and His love”67. Let us ask the LORD for an undivided heart that truly fears His name (Psa 86:11).
65 D. J. Wiseman, T. D. Alexander, and B. K. Waltke, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah, Tyndale Old Testament commentaries v. 26 66 Ibid., 116. 67 Timothy Keller and Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage (New York: Dutton, 2011), 68.
Application:

What does the fear of the Lord mean to me and how does it impact the way I live?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for pastors and staff: That they will have an undivided heart that fears the name of the LORD (Psa 86:11)
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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