Through our 40+ years of church leadership, Terri and I never felt as though we "fully fit" into the spiritual cultures into which we entered. We adapted ourselves to serve them and sought with all our hearts to help them and our beloved fellow leaders to be successful in our stated visions and missions. In the late summer of 2014, we started to feel the freedom and divine guidance to dream about forming a new community "from scratch". We came to understand through our many years of experience what we didn't want church life to be like. But then, we began to proactively imagine what we did want church life to be like. As we prayed and pondered, we decided to form this new experimental Jesus community around a set of central values more than a predetermined corporate vision and mission. (More on that in a future post!)
The first value we have posited is the ADORATION of God. In our view, adoring God is not centered on personal daily "quiet times", public musical worship services, hearing sermons or attending corporate prayer gatherings, though we may highly value such things. Adoration extends far and deeply beyond acts of piety and periodic assemblies into all of life. It is essentially a realization that Jesus himself was and is the ultimate fulfillment of the "temple of God" and all that this implies for knowing God's immediate presence in our human existence. One of these implications is that every Christ-follower is organically connected to the risen Christ and so becomes a living, breathing and mobile "temple" of the Holy Spirit...24/7/365. By this, all of life becomes sacred and even our "mundane" or "ordinary" activities and responsibilities...along with our robust enjoyment of God-ordained simple earthly pleasures...are translated into profound and mighty acts of worship. (Indeed, there is no space for Gnostic notions of spirituality in this vision of abundant life!) We live by faith that such a thing can really be...and is...true, acceptable and pleasing to God! "In him we live and move and have our being!"
As a naturally/supernatural by-product, to now live "in the flesh" is clearly seen to be alien to our new identity as beloved sons and daughters. Sins lose their appeal and are exposed as stupid, unnecessary, distracting and terribly unsatisfying. Who wants to wear old, dirty, smelly and tattered clothes when a whole new up-to-date wardrobe is now hanging in our closets? This is why and how the apostles of Jesus taught us to assertively and simply put off the old self and joyfully put on the new Spirit-empowered self.
Living in adoration of God is like having a basic operating system (adoration) running in the background on our computer hardware at all times that provides an essential environment for other software programs (our earthly activities) to be activated and utilized efficiently. There is a way to "pray without ceasing" if we can see Immanuel ("God with us") in all of life as we engage in the full range of our earthly occupations. Adoring Him then, in this light, becomes our delightful preoccupation.
By traveling these "paths of life", we begin to joyfully anticipate and experience a genuine interactive friendship with the Trinity in real time. We perceive the greatness and goodness of God in every life situation, despite the realism of evil. We live a life of authentic gratitude and share in the good confession of the Messiah himself. King David prophesied of him (and himself and us, by extension) in Acts 2:25-28 -
I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.
A VOICE OF HOPE
Michael Sullivant's Blog
I am a child of God, husband, father, grandfather, spiritual father, author, speaker and hope coach.