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Thoughts on the church that having babies will make you think.

October 15, 2012

(Over the next couple of weeks I plan on blogging about some of the stuff the birthing process got me to thinking about with the church.  Hope you enjoy!)

The birth of Asher was mind blowing!  Throughout the process, many thoughts occurred while being a part of it that made me think of the parallels is presents to the nature of the church and just what on earth we are doing here.  In a day where the church is manufactured, marketed, efficiently planned, and modeled, it seems that we’ve forgotten that scripture teaches that the kingdom of God exists and grows organically: by birth.  In particular, John loved talking about our new birth, recounting how Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born … “, and expounding on this birth extensively  in his first letter.  Peter too used this language in his first letter.  Jesus equated trouble in the world in Matthew 24 to the birthing pains of his church.   There are many other references.

My eyes have been opened to the amazing nature of the birthing process through Asher.  If these passages are accurate, it is in much the same way that God tells the story of how he conceives and grows his church.

Before Asher, there were many acts of love, but, mysteriously, one of those through no choice of our own, led to his actual conception – the planting of a seed.  Throughout Kara’s pregnancy, Asher grew in the womb, developing eyes, ears, a body, a heart, and all of the other things he would need to be fully formed.  We did not shape him ourselves, nor could we, but we could provide a good atmosphere, food, love, and love for each other to give him the environment to grow.  In particular, love for each other was the most important thing we could do to affect him.  When he was born, he was born through pain, blood, and water.  Kara felt the pangs of death, but through that new life emerged.  Kara’s body knew the time to bring him out – even though it was a few days earlier than predicted by doctors.  He became an immediate part of the family – someone we love very much despite how much he can contribute.

In the same way, acts of love abound in the church.  Mysteriously, some of those lead to conception through the planting of a seed through that love.  God grows that person spiritually in a womb, developing a spiritual body in just the right times.  We help that simply by loving each other, providing food, and safe atmosphere.  Love for each other is the most important thing we can do.  Birth into the kingdom came organically through pain, blood, and water.  Jesus birthed us into being on the cross – a spear thrust into his side producing blood and water symbolized that birth.  We reflect that in our process because being born into the kingdom requires death (blood) and new birth (represented through water).  Those added to the church are born when the Spirit chooses, which was eloquently stated by Jesus when he told Nicodemus that “The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”  This new birth becomes an immediate part of the family, despite how much he or she can contribute.

Working with the church for quite a long time now, I’ve been taught that churches grow through talented human leadership.  Leaders have a vision that must be executed efficiently and that will build the church.  Growth in the church can be achieved by methodology, hard work, and planning.  “Worship” services are planned and executed with every note and rote in perfect order.  The church, effectively, is inorganic.  It is a machine that can be built through an assembly line and who’s stock will go up through American business ingenuity.  Furthermore, its individual parts are easily replaceable.  If a person leaves, it makes little to no impact on the church itself.  The Spirit of the Lord could long have left a church that continues to seem as if it is still there through an amazing marketing campaign.

Contrast that inorganic, machine like image with the flesh and blood image above it.  Is our image of the church and how it grows accurate?  Does this change the nature and scope of how we go about our faith?  I know it is something I will think long and hard about after seeing my son born!

Love to all,

todd

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Zoo Ministries is a community of young adults who have chosen to live out the life of Christ in their greater community.  We focus on the practical aspects of what it means to be devoted to one another in Christ while living in a world that more and more feeds self absorption.  The focus of our community is to share the love of Christ with each other and with the world around us.  This blog updates and explains this ministry as well as being a spot to share thoughts, generally on spirituality, about the events of the day.  We hope it provides something good for you!

Here is our house motto:

“We are a community of Christ-followers who believe in living a life of love. That loves drives us to comfort the hurting, serve the needy, befriend the lonely, accept the rejected, and challenge the status quo. We understand that love is risky, and we are compelled by Christ to take that risk. If people needs a place to belong, they can belong with us.”

We currently function partly of donations (we have a 2 year plan to cut the need for donations down significantly and, actually, be able to start funding other things).  If you want to contribute financially to help this develop, go to http://goo.gl/3WC6k  or send check payable to East Main Church of Christ with my name in the memo line to East Main Church of Christ 2528 East Main St. Kalamazoo, MI 49048 .  If you don’t care about tax write offs you can send it to me at Todd Tipton 5727 West Q Avenue Kalamazoo, MI 49009.  We are always looking for roommates and helpers so contact us if you want to move here and be a part of this!

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