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Posts Tagged ‘community’

by Jordan Hathcock

“We criticize anyone who tries to break away from the rat race, because the idea that there is a way out scares us more than dying in the state we’re in” – Cic Mellace

How is everybody’s work week going? Loving it, or what? Are you feeling like what you do within your work week is really providing the best for you and others around you? I will be perfectly honest: I don’t. And, I am not alone. Majority of Americans-and the rest of the globe- are feeling the same type of attitude when it comes to the work week. Here are some statistics regarding Americans attitude towards their work and as well as the health effects due to these work weeks:

‘In 2013, Forbes magazine reported on the poll, saying “work is more often a source of frustration than fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers.” The number of global employees described by Gallup as “emotionally disconnected from their workplaces” is only slightly better this year (85%) than four years ago (87%). The rate is slightly better in some countries — like the United States, where only 70 percent of people hate their jobs — and worse in others.”

And…

“According to 2004 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans work full time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other employer arranged irregular schedules. According to U.S. National Health Interview data from 2010, almost 19% of working adults work 48 hour or more per week and over 7% worked 60 hours or more. Both shift work and long work hours have been associated with health and safety risks.”

Look, I am extremely grateful for what my privilege has brought me and what hard work has done as well (they both play a part). I also understand there are many people who are desperately needing a job but are unable to. It’s an issue and I empathize. The systemic problem of class wars, racism, climate change-all stems from the reality of how we are lacking communing as a community. But here is the thing: Is this current work-climate really a healthy way to live? Doesn’t look to be according to the stats and personal experience. I am currently clocking in a 50+ hour work week and I am feeling the affects emotionally and physically. I know, I know suck it up right? Or like Paul (or a follower of Paul) would say: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” Yeah, we get it Paul, but life isn’t always that black and white (you asshole).

We can look at all the factors that play a role in why, in our current economic state of affairs globally, we all are feeling trapped and unsatisfied. Western civilization has over emphasized the competitive spirit into a form of slavery. If we do not work those hours, we probably would lose our jobs and not get paid. Hyper Capitalism is not helping anybody here, people! We are stuck in the consumerism rat race and we need to take steps to break free. Yeah, a little idealistic, sure. But, all ideas stem from some type of truth that needs to be lived out or else the captives remain captives.

What’s the solution? Well, I don’t know for sure–but I do know that just doing small tiny itty-bitty steps do help tremendously in breaking free of this unhealthy rate race. It can be writing blogs (like yours truly), it can be serving others in a way that doesn’t benefit the machine but truly brings life to the one its serving. Be creative! Please don’t think I am selling fame and fortune here. It’s not about that at all. Also, working hard and living into the reality of truly believing in your work is a great thing! I am not trying to go all quasi-socialist on you (though it has its benefits).

In essence, it’s about living out a life of experimentation and creativity not of stagnant habits. Don’t get me wrong, I understand we must put the grub on the platters! All I am trying to point out is if we keep on going at the pace we are going, are bellies might be full, but everything else is going to be lacking in substance. We cannot be diluted by the propaganda of the Empire (Institutional control, aka Babylon). We are not pawns! We are all Kings and Queens (Rev. 1:6) participating with the Christ-King to bring about a life of meaning, not a mundane existence. Let us step into the unknown and really see where this life of meaning can lead us…

“The only walls that exist are those you have placed in your mind. And whatever obstacles you conceive, exist only because you have forgotten what you have already achieved.”― Suzy Kassem

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by Jordan Hathcock

“That’s the thing about friendship, it’s a lot rarer than love because there’s nothing in it for anybody.”

It’s hard to imagine not experiencing the amazing journey of friendship. We all can become a little oblivious when it comes to the incredible gift of what relationship truly is. Let’s not forget, many individuals don’t even get to experience genuine friendship throughout their lives. As study shows, more and more people are not developing meaningful friendships and thus, not able to create healthy communities that are able to thrive.

From the American Christian context, we can see this type of loneliness is also causing an abandonment of healthy church experiences. People become isolated due to the abundant number of rules and regulations pressed upon congregates. When it becomes more of an exclusive club instead of an inclusive party, things can get desolate pretty fast.

Here are some examples of how church communities create loneliness and isolation:

  • People don’t feel safe enough to connect (LGBTQ people for example)
  • Churches make groups with walls and the walls need to come down
  • People with unseen illnesses cannot always attend church services, which makes it hard to connect with others
  • People who have less feel like they are the only ones
  • Some people are not extroverts. But they still need connection.

These are just few on the many issues that the church at large is producing when it comes to isolation and loneliness. What gives? What can we do to counter this onslaught? Well, many have left these churches and have found freedom and friendship outside the religious walls. Out of these groups, you still have Christ participants and others not so much. I get it. When people have been burned by the religious institution, what we call church, it’s hard to come back to some type of faith.

The nones and dones are finding healthy friendships and that’s awesome. But, some are not. On top of that, some are still wanting that communal community to embrace. I think for those disenfranchised, the Body of Christ (i.e., a loving community) can still play a role in bringing about healthy friendships that in turn create healthy communities. It really boils down to effort and time. Let’s look at this verse from the Christian scriptures:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

A lot of directions we can go with this. Like did Jesus really consider his disciples slaves (more accurate translation of servant)? Or, did he truly make known everything about God to them? But the direction I want to go with this is the whole context of this verse is showing that the thing that lasts is LOVE (no greater than by laying down one’s life for a friend). Yes, love is always the default message throughout Jesus’ teachings: “This is my command, love one another as I have loved you”.

To become a people of true friendships, we must come to the realization that love is the only action to bring us into this reality. Duh, right? Yes, love is getting the final word nowadays and that’s good! But, agape love is different then a love that is a two-way street transaction. It is unconditional. People have a hard time grasping that, I know I do. It’s no easy task! It’s fucken hard! The question is: do we want to take it there to a systemic level? Hard to say. But isolated loneliness is a very difficult place to find oneself in and to claw out of.

There are many avenues and connections that need to be accomplished to combat this issue. From Jesus’ perspective, friendship is the place he seems to trust in to find the reality of the call: Earth as it is in Heaven. We cannot see the New Creation come into full reality unless we heed to this call of authentic camaraderie…

“Friendship is unnecessary like Philosophy, like Art it has no survival value rather it is one of those things that give value to survival”- C.S. Lewis

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by Jim Gordon

Sunday after Sunday for many years my wife and I have ‘gone to church’. We sat in a pre-planned service, being entertained, listening to one person tell us what God was saying and looking at the back of the head of the person sitting quietly in front of us.

Each week we sat there, not having the opportunity to say what was on our minds, no chance to talk and get to know our brothers and sisters sitting all around us. We were told this was good fellowship, meaningful worship, and that we would be learning more about God each week. More like learning more about that particular doctrine and belief about God from the perspective of the pastor.

Truthfully, we were getting so tired of this religious social club environment. We were not getting anything out of this experience and we certainly were not putting anything into it…..other than our money when the offering basket went past. We have become tired of the religious enterprise with its pre-planned services, the CEO and board of directors, along with the gimmicks and programs designed to ‘bring the people in’ especially when we were told to go out into the world.

church-people-or-building

We are finding that true community is believers living their daily lives with one another by caring, loving, assisting, encouraging and building one another up. This is what is known as the Church. It is fellow believers living daily for Christ, not a once a week trip to a building and sitting there for an hour.

We are followers of Christ going about our normal daily business living with Christ as our head rather than a pastor. We live as one with Christ, letting his life and love touch others each and every day. We assemble with our brothers and sisters in Christ any day, anywhere. Sunday is not the Lord’s day but every day is the day the Lord has made. God’s house is not a building where we gather with people of similar beliefs. God’s house is us, His people, those of us who have accepted His grace. We are called to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves, not just those who believe like we do.

It has been good for us to stop being part of the Sunday morning crowd at the building of our choosing. It has us looking to God more, listening for His voice and allowing the Spirit to teach us rather than one man. It has us loving and accepting people as they are, not just those who believe like us. The Church is meant to be a community, living, loving and caring for one another each and every day.

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Christianity can mean a couple different things and it depends on what meaning we are using as to how I feel about it.

If, when talking about being a Christian, we mean we are following Christ, acting like Christ and living like Christ, I am all for being called a Christian.

Religions

Usually these days the word Christian means more about the religion of Christianity. Just like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and a host of others, Christianity is a religion controlled by men. It is divided up into many various denominations, doctrines and biblical interpretations. Contrary to popular belief Jesus did not start the Christian religion.

Here in the United States we are so proud to say that America is a Christian nation. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that idea. America is a country made up of many religions and beliefs. The good thing in this country is that we are not forced to be a part of any religion or belief. We have many freedoms that are not found in other places and I am thankful for that fact. We are free to choose what we want to believe, who we want to follow and we have the right to express that without fear of punishment.

Following Christ is not about a religion. I actually think it is better sometimes not to use the word Christian because of all the religious thoughts and ideas it brings up. Religion is a man-made, organized system that divides more than anything. We separate into groups that meet in buildings on set days and at set times saying we welcome anyone, yet only want those who feel the same way we do.

It bothers me to see so many who profess to be Christians, those who believe in God and Jesus and spreading His love to others, who argue and fight with those who think differently. We are supposed to be known for our love for others and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, it seems a lot of Christians are more interested in defending their personal views and thoughts, getting mad and arguing amongst themselves while those outside the faith are looking at them and wondering why they need to have Christ in their lives.

Now, talking about Christianity in the sense that we are following Christ, living like Him and treating others like Jesus treated people, this is an entirely different thing. As mentioned in Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by the people of Antioch because they saw the disciples acting so much like Christ. To me, this is the true meaning of a Christian.

BeLikeJesus

True Christianity is a community of people who act like Christ and let him love through them. It is a daily life and is not separated into normal living and religious living. It is not specifically following set doctrines or following rules of do’s and don’ts. It is not meeting in a building once a week listening to one person talk, singing a few songs, shaking hands and going home. It is not a system of leaders who are on a higher level than others. Those who have gifts of leadership lead by example, lead as equals, and lead by a servant spirit to encourage and build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not to lead by power or a position of authority.

True Christianity is a daily life following the leading of the Spirit. It is meeting with those we come in contact with along our daily routine and showing the love of Christ. It is eating together, laughing and crying together, accepting one another, talking and discussing our thoughts and views.

As followers of Christ, we are to love others, accept others, and treat others with compassion, respect and love. We do not have to agree with everyone, just accept them. We can agree to disagree and love people just as they are. Everyone does not have to be just like us and they do not have to believe like us. They should be able to be themselves and we as Christ followers should be OK with it.

It is time to stop being a Christian in the sense of religion and focus on Jesus and let Him live through us. After all, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, God lives within us. There is no reason why we cannot love and accept others just like Christ loves and accepts everyone.

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We know when the word church is used most of the time we are talking about the modern-day, organized religious organization that people attend on Saturday or Sunday. The traditional organized church with its many programs, leaders, pastors, rules and regulations.

We forget that the Church is not a building or an institution but a community of people who love God and love one another. Whether in church or out we are all one body with Christ as the head.

OneBody

I think an issue today among those of us who have left the organized church is to feel those who are still involved in church and those who think differently than us are our enemies. This is not the correct way of thinking.

People attend church for various reasons such as out of obligation, guilt, social purposes or because they have always gone to church. Yet there are many people attending church that truly love God and want to follow Him and show his love to others.

Many outside of church start thinking they are more righteous or further along in their walk with God than those who still attend church. This is a bad attitude to have and we should be loving and accepting of those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ no matter if they attend church or not. Just as those who faithfully attend church should not look down on those who have left the organized system looking at them as if they are backsliders or have lost their faith. Our Father will lead each of us in the way he has for us in his timing.

The important thing is our love for God and for one another. No matter what we do on Sunday mornings, whether we attend a church building or love God from outside the walls, our goal is to decrease to self, our desires and plans and allow Him to increase and love others through us.

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I do not know about you, but the verse in Hebrews 10:25 about not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together sure gets quoted a lot when it comes to attending church or not attending.

Once someone finds out my wife and I have stopped attending an organized service each week, the first thing we usually hear is this verse.

Truth of the matter is, I do not think this verse is even talking about what we call church.

As I have stated before, church is not a building or a place. Church is the people of God, those of us born into His kingdom by grace. Church is not an organization, it is an organism. Church is not a one day event, it is a daily lifestyle of people loving God and loving others.

When reading the verses preceding this verse, you find it is talking about how we are now granted permission to enter into the Holy place, not a building, but into the presence of God. This happened when Jesus died and the veil was torn from top to bottom.

To me, this verse is saying that we need our brothers and sisters in Christ for encouragement and to stimulate one another to love and good deeds in Christ. It has nothing to do with an organized religious service in a building. It has everything to do with loving and communicating with other Christians.

One of readers of this blog, José Arroyo made the following comment, which goes along with this thought… “we assemble to motivate each other (to) love and good works…exactly what I didn’t get in church when I attended. Nevertheless, I can assemble with one or two, and Jesus is there to motivate us himself. Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. That makes a threesome, enough for an assembly”.

When you think of countries where Christianity is against the law and churches are closed down, do we think the Christian people are wrong for not attending a service every week? They get together in small groups in houses or where-ever they feel they can meet safely. It may not be more than two or three people.

Another reader, Viki Wieland Manera, made this comment…”I have only been out of the church for <1 year, but I am finding the assembly of just 2, 3 or 4 is 100x more powerful than my former assembling with 200. There is deeper meaning and honesty. The masses for me created a falseness and mimicry that I was never comfortable with – even after 20 years of it”.

Jesus said where two or three gather together in my name, there I am in their midst. We do not need buildings or large groups of people to gather to fulfill this verse about assembling. We do need each other, no matter if it is meeting at home, or meeting for dinner at a restaurant, or getting together in a park. The important thing is to love God and love one another and be available to our brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage and build them up.

An interesting comment made by Terrence Williams said…”this verse stresses to me the absolute difference between “assembling” and “gathering”. A box of Legos can be constantly gathered together but it only takes shape to represent the desire of its creator when it is assembled by him. Then it is ready to perform the function it was created for. So is the body of Christ. Therefore, those who put all their eggs in the basket of Sunday church, it is they who have truly forsaken the “assembling” of themselves together. They are constantly gathering but never really assembling”.

Let me again point out I am not against church or those who attend. My wife and I were part of the weekly service for years, but over the past couple years we have found that for us, it makes more sense to be outside the walls of religion and seek meaningful fellowship each day with our brothers and sisters in Christ rather than continue to sit in a pew listening to a select few participate. We believe in the priesthood of all believers and that it is a daily lifestyle not a weekly event, with everyone being equally important parts of the body.

A more in-depth study of this topic can be viewed at the following link, written by my good friend David Yeubanks of truthforfree.com:  Click here: http://www.truthforfree.com/forsaking-the-assembly/

(Originally posted on June 10, 2015)

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Whether you are part of an organized church or not, we as followers of Christ are the Church. It is not a building or an organization but a community of believers loving God and loving others.

We should be able to get past our differences in doctrine and interpretation, get past what church we attend or if we attend at all and focus on our love for God and our love for one another.

We are not going to agree with one another and we are not going to come in contact with every person in the world. Yet we are to be ready each day to allow the Spirit of Christ, who is within us, to reach out to those individuals we do meet along the way to share the love of God with them.

All our organized services and plans to get people to a church building so the pastor can get the good word out will never make a huge difference. It is our job to go out into the world and live a life of love. That does not mean all of us have to become missionaries and go to some far-off land. The people we come in contact with each day during our regular routine are the people we are to show God’s love.

This is the way we will make a difference in our world, when people see the love of God within us for each other and for God.

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