Reading Ezra 4-7, there is a distinct sense of God carrying His people along and yet plenty of participation, disappointment, community effort, looking back into history for precedents and justification. Similarly, we have an opportunity to co-labor as God’s people to revive a lifestyle together of godly interaction between believers in each region. What would it look like if believers in our county for instance began co-laboring in each neighborhood? What would it look like if in each township (Sonora, Soulsbyville, Twain Harte, Tuolumne, Mi-Wuk, Jamestown), believers were banding together to relate and care for one another and their neighbors?
There is nothing wrong with denominations and affiliations. Beautifully, part of each local church having integrity and character, strength to endure, is the resolute focus on core doctrines and practices. In fact, each local church would be inauthentic if they too loosely held to core doctrines and practices. What would it look like, however, for local churches to encourage networks of believers in each neighborhood, and what would it look like for networks of believers in each neighborhood to share testimony in their local churches of what God is doing in their neighborhood?
This collaborating among believers to see non-believers become committed followers of Jesus Christ, and this genuine enjoyment of one another and fellowship among one another as believers… what a beautiful picture of God’s people being carried along in union with Him. Of all people in the world, believers should be able to get along and befriend one another the best. We should be the best at working together to see God’s aims fulfilled in our lives in community.
What does this look like functionally in our county? That’s up to God. In Scripture, over and over again, there is this clear picture of God carrying His people along, accomplishing His aims in His people and through His people, even when they are rebellious and uncooperative. In New Testament stories, there seems to be a little less form to things and a little more clear sense of eternal things. God moves in these waves almost, impacting people in cross-cultural, cross-national, cross-political, cross-ideological kinds of ways… I use the word CROSS on purpose here. The story of Christ dying on the CROSS sobers any hearer. As the Gospel of Jesus Christ becomes more and more central for us as a community of believers, we more willingly receive one another no matter our denominational/association perspective. If we call ourselves blood-bought followers of Jesus Christ, believers in the One true God, then we are centered by this Savior.
May we network between ourselves as believers, get to know our neighbors, learn about family and friendship backgrounds, break down walls of sinful judgment and prideful division among believers. Let’s agree on the Gospel of Christ, the great commandments (Love God, Love Neighbor) and begin getting to work together to see each other more authentically living out what we say we believe. Let’s sow to the continued growth and health of each existing local church in our county. Let’s pray for multiplication of the efforts of existing local churches and leaders. And, let’s ask for wisdom together that we would see multiplication of these efforts. May God’s people act as a people and build together.
Lord, remind us please that You carry us when all is said and done. Please use our feeble efforts and steer us into Your Way more and more every day. If we are off in any way, any one of us or us as a community, please direct our steps and keep us aware of our pride. Keep reminding us through Your Word and Your people of our priorities to love You, love Your people, love our actual neighbors, and to multiply ourselves by drawing others into this awesome reality of faith in Your Son. We are warmed and encouraged to seek out one another and forgive and learn to love as we consider the death of Jesus Christ for the removal of our sin. We seek to respond well to this Story together and to see Christ being formed in us day-by-day as a community. Thank You for being the Redeeming God Who redeems a hurting and wicked people and builds His church out of the rubble of our persons. We humbly come before You in response to Your love for us and we pray and worship often together, amazed that we get to be Your people.