The treasure of the Gospel in Clay Jars. Patterns of Missional Faithfulness: Following Gods Calling, Being Shaped by Scripture, Taking Risks for the Sake of the Gospel, Living Out Gods Intent for the World.
The Story of EPCOT
The name Epcot derives from the acronym EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a utopian city of the future planned by Walt Disney. Walt Disney's original vision of EPCOT was for a model community, home to twenty thousand residents, which would be a test bed for city planning and organization. The community was to have been built in the shape of a circle, with businesses and commercial areas at its center, community buildings and schools and recreational complexes around it, and residential neighborhoods along the perimeter. Transportation would have been provided by monorails and conveyor belts. Automobile traffic would be kept underground, leaving pedestrians safe above-ground. Walt Disney said, "It will be a planned, controlled community, a showcase for American industry and research, schools, cultural and educational opportunities. In EPCOT there will be no slum areas because we won't let them develop. There will be no landowners and therefore no voting control. People will rent houses instead of buying them, and at modest rentals. There will be no retirees; everyone must be employed."
This vision was not realized. Walt Disney wasn't able to obtain funding and permission to start work on his Florida property until he agreed to build the Magic Kingdom first, and he passed away before its opening day. The Walt Disney Company later decided that it didn't want to be in the business of running a town.
Gods City of Tomorrow, Today Gods Intent for the World
Walt Disney wasnt the first to have a hopeful vision of a prototype city. His vision isnt the only vision to inspire us to think about the way it could be. Since God called Abraham, God has always intended for his people to be a prototype city of tomorrow. He intended for Israel to live out and demonstrate the shalom peace that he intended for all the nations. Jesus spoke of a city a city on a hill that would serve as a shining example of righteous community. Matthew 5:14-16 A city set on a hill. A light to the world. When Luke writes about the early church he describes it as the continuation of Gods Israel-dream. Acts 4:32-35. They were living out Gods intent for the world.
The church is a sign, foretaste, and glimpse of Gods kingdom rule. We are the prototype community. A people living now as if the complete and total reign of God has broken into this world. God has a vision for the world as it should be. Gods mission is for the world to he create and his intent for the world to be realized. So, living out Gods intent for the world is how we participate in Gods mission.
Living Out Gods Intent for the World
A prototype is more than an idea, it is a tangible example. It is not enough to know what God intends for the world. We have to live it out. God calls his church to practice habits and ways of living that embody his ideas. We see these most often in Scripture when we read texts that speak of the way we should treat one another.
Listening to One Another: The beginning of one another community is paying attention to one another. Sometimes church business is just busy-ness. I dont think thats how God intended us to live. How can we really help each other or love one another if we are not paying attention to one another? Listening is the beginning of unity ... 15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over."
God intends for us to speak honestly and truthfully with one another. This is how we overcome anxiety and worry by truly listening to one another.
Helping One Another: Acts 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
The people of God live in hospitality. Hospitality was a very important virtue in the ancient world. A traveler depended on hospitality not just for comfort, but for survival. We think of hospitality as something exceptional or special. We think of it as playing host or hostess at the Martha Stewart level, but consider how basic it is. My friend Jeff Christian told the story of an elder and his wife who invited others to their house for PBJ sandwiches and popsicles. This couple wanted to show everyone that hospitality was about love and fellowship rather than scoring social style points. 12:13 - Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bearing with one another This involves not only bearing sorrows, but also (to put it quite bluntly) putting up with one another! Ephesians 4:2 - Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. One of the ways we practice Gods intent for the kingdom is by enduring all the little things that could so easily cause us to divide. Romans 14:13-19 - Let us stop passing judgment on one another. . . 19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Loving one another Some of us remember sermons that list the identifying marks of the church. The identifying marks are one of thinking about the practices that demonstrate Gods intent for the world. Jesus had one identifying mark that he considered to be the clearest in terms of identifying his people ... John 13:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."
Welcoming the other We cannot limit love in the kingdom of God. We are not concerned about the boundaries or demographics this world uses to divide us (age, race, gender, etc.) We respect those differences, but they are not barriers to love in fellowship if all are in Christ (Galatians 3:28)
The world is watching ... Dale Ziemer and Lois Barret (Treasure in Clay Jars, Eerdmans, 2004) tell the story of the Holy Ghost Full Gospel Church in Detroit. This church moved into a neighborhood that was run down and dominated by the problems of drug abuse and the attending evils of a drug addicted, hopeless class of people. One of the residents of this neighborhood was Luther. Luther described himself as a big time drunk and church members noticed that Luther was a sort of ringleader among those who sought solace with alcohol. All of the churchs programs and techniques to reach someone like Luther failed. But Luther was watching. We took notice of the people who gathered in the churchs building. In time, Luther took such an interest in this people that he started directing traffic in the evening. After all, they were in his neighborhood. Luther also began escorting the elderly women to their cars after the evening services, after all they were in his neighborhood and Luther would tell them that it wasnt safe. Luther took notice of these very different people and in time he came and stood in the foyer during worship. Then he started to come in a bit closer and stand in the door to the auditorium. Then he stopped drinking so much. And eventually he was baptized.
At every stage of Luthers journey, the people welcomed him. He was never told to go away, nor was he feared, neither was he ignored. He was welcomed. And the one who was once the other became one of the one anothers.
Treasure in Clay Jars
Lesson Five: Pattern 4 March 19, 2006
Living Out Gods Intent for the World
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