Jeep Community

Ten years ago I bought my first Jeep Wrangler. When I drove past other Wrangler drivers they raised their left hand from the steering wheel, usually just the fingers, keeping their thumb hooked onto the wheel, and they waved. What was going on? Did I have a light out? Was something wrong with my vehicle? Soon I realized that there is a community among Jeep owners, particularly Wrangler drivers. That left hand wave? It’s a thing, really, called the “Jeep Wave.” (Go ahead, Google it.) Now I do it, too. See a Jeep headed my way?  Yep, I raise my left hand and with a wave I acknowledge my place in the Jeep Community.

Far more significantly, I belong to another community, the Church. I became part of that family through faith, at the invitation of Jesus. “So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians—you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28, NLT)  This passage reveals God’s plan for His Church, a unique community in this world. Our affinity is not built around ownership, heritage, or race. We share God’s life in the Spirit, which erase the lines that too often separate people in this world.

We need to hear the voice of the Spirit in this time where so many things are tearing apart the world in which we live.
We are not white or black Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’
We are not rich or poor Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’
We are not male or female Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’ 
We are not politically progressive or conservative Christians. We are ‘in Christ.’ 

Honestly, I’ll admit that those statements are so much easier to write than to live. Deep suspicion about others and their motives is part of life these days. Power is worshipped as the means of gaining equality which makes authentic conversations impossible. If we attempt dialogue we will be viewed as a collaborator with the ‘other side’ no matter the issue. If you agree that black lives matter then you must be anti-police. But, it is equally true that if you say that blue lives matter your good faith in racial matters is suspect. If you say that you are committed to the sanctity of human life then you must hate women. And so it goes …  the greater tragedy being that the Church, God’s family, allows these issues to creep in and divide those who are called to be ‘one’ – people deeply committed to Him and to one another.

Christian community is radically important to our spiritual health. We cannot  be all that God intends without being in communion with His Body, sharing our spiritual gifts, living life together, supporting, strengthening, and living the Gospel of Christ in our world. The calling is just too big for one person to even attempt alone. The truth is that a solitary Christian just cannot be. “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5, NIV)  

Post-COVID America has even less place for ‘church’ it seems than it did a year ago.  For reasons I have yet to understand, large numbers of people who claim faith in Jesus are attempting a faith without fellowship. That choice is one of spiritual peril. We do not just enjoy each other’s company, we need to be committed, working at sharing the life of God in our worship and service. Our unity must go beyond a polite nod or a convenient moment that we fit into our schedule.  

Yes, the Church and your church, has issues!  Politics has crept in, an ugly perversion of the mission of Christ. Corruption is too often allowed to go unchallenged. Misfocused missional statements turn Christians inward rather than outward to serve. Dysfunction makes some churches places of ongoing conflict to such an extent that we might wonder why bother at all?

But, for all those problems, there is also a rich fellowship of Believers, real love, and the fulfilling work of redemption that is possible when we become His Body rather than a club or association. My challenge to you today is to renew your commitment to Christ and His Church. Work at it! Make gathering a priority. Begin conversations about BIG IDEAS of service and mission, daring to turn dreams into reality as the Spirit empowers.  Let’s repent for our pride, our desire to be served, our insistence on uniformity of conviction. Instead let us pray that we will learn how to be ‘one’ in Him.

Can you receive the directive of the Word? Will you humbly accept His call? “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s people, let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:21-25, NLT)

Now that is real community, promising far more than the Jeep Wave!

_____________

We Will Stand

(I love this old 1980’s song with a timeless message.
Let Russ Taff’s artistry encourage you to stand together with other Christians.)

Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand
Why we pull away from each other so easily
Even though we’re all walking the same road?
Yet we build dividing walls
Between our brothers and ourselves.

But, I don’t care what label you may wear,
If you believe in Jesus you belong with me!
The bond we share is all I care to see,
And we’ll change the world forever,
If you will join with me,
Join and sing, sing.

You’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us,
When we’re walking side by side,
As long as there is love,
We will stand!

The day will come when we will be as one
And with a mighty voice
Together we will proclaim that
Jesus, Jesus is King.
It will echo through the earth.
It will shake the nations.
And the world will see, see that;

You’re my brother, you’re my sister,
So take me by the hand.
Together we will work until He comes.
There’s no foe that can defeat us,
When we’re walking side by side,
As long as there is love,
We will stand!

James Hollihan | Russ Taff | Tori Taff © 1983 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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