Losers and Winners
“The town is deserted!” exclaimed Roy as he arrived for our Sunday evening meeting. Highways carried midnight level traffic, restaurants were deserted--Chicagoland is the nation’s largest football market and they were tuned in to their Bears as they played in Super Bowl XLI.
By game time it had already been a long day. Our two morning services (on the coldest weekend in almost two years) were great times of fellowship, study and encouragement. Afterward we had an “envelope stuffing party” and our monthly Grace School of the Bible student meeting.
By game time our “super Sunday” group had gathered around the big screen TV in the teen room. The food was abundant, spirits high; everything was ready. We had planned this primarily as a teen event, but it turned out that many others attended! We did have our evening Bible study (we never call off services!) and in the end it was disappointing that da Bears lost. But I couldn’t help but marvel at the specialness of the evening. Teens, young couples, families, mid-lifers, older saints, folks struggling with life’s problems, even a newly arrived puppy! all gathered to enjoy the time together: as saints; as family. These type social settings allow us to enjoy just who we are: the household of God!
The previous Sunday had also been a super Sunday as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. We have come to enjoy this time of congregational communion in a very special way. Rather than having the usual Protestant form of service appended to a morning service—what someone has called “the Nazarene Nibble” and “the Lord’s Snack”—we have an actually “Lord’s supper,” that is, a fellowship meal that belongs to the Lord.
For more information about the doctrinal thinking behind this you can read my handout Rethinking The Lord’s Supper or listen to the message here. The point here is that it is a special time of congregational fellowship. We eat together but our table-talk is focused on what the Lord is doing in our lives. That Sunday our time together was very special as table after table shared how the Lord was working in their lives. The testimony time alone took over 90 minutes!
“I never knew that about you;” “We had never met before and it is great to be able to really get to know you;” “I made some new friends today and we already feel like we have known each other for years!” These type comments could be heard as we departed. You see, we share the same journey, the same life in Christ Jesus!
One of the grand privileges of the fellowship of the local church is to provide for the saints “to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). There is always the danger of learning the truths of God’s Word but never moving to a level where you know the love of Christ in a way that goes beyond knowledge—where it takes root in you life and bears fruits that demonstrates wisdom, appreciation and a deeper awareness of and sensitivity to our position in Christ.
Learning experiences with the Lord that come through His Word prepare us to move into relational experiences with one another through “the fellowship of the gospel.” These in turn prepare us to “bring grace to life” and the world about us.