Today was my first Sunday service at Belfast Collective.
It seems odd to be saying that since I already knew at least 80% of those in attendance thanks to small groups and home gatherings that I have been apart of over the last 3 weeks.
But never the less...
This group meets weekly in someones home but only every other Sunday for a "church service". The emphases is on creating strong relationships so that the "church" isn't just four walls that make up a sanctuary but it is a living, breathing movement of joined spirits. A thrilling new concept that I hope other groups will soon adopt.
Today's lesson was on Faith which works, Love that Labors and Hope that s steadfast.
[I should make note that I have omitted points that I either am not fully understanding of and have added some of my own thoughts here and there as well]
1 Thessalonians 1:3
We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
First a working Faith has some misconceptions.
1. The good livin' religionists would have you (as well as themselves) believe that you can earn your way into heaven by doing good works or simply by being a good person. While good work is a fruit of the spirit this kind of mindset leads to a judgmental environment and breeds hypocrisy.
This concept is biblical disproved in Ephesians 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
When you have God in the center of your life you are instantly called to a higher purpose and that will 10 times out 10 mean helping others in some way. If Christ lives within you, you will naturally produce good works hence a working faith.
A Labor of Love
Christian love is characterized by sacrificial service to others and giving to meet their needs.
The misconceptions here is that love is feelings based and love requires and/or necessitates reciprocation.
(Investing in the love that you are going to eventually receive from that other person)
This clearly is abolished with that whole Love thy enemies part of the bible. Camp there for a minute.
Since the bible clearly states that no one is to be exempt from the love you have to show to others this includes those who are difficult, annoy you, the ornery, bad tempered, a=stubborn, ill-mannered, awkward and arrogant. It's also good to keep in mind that this may be YOU to someone else.
A gospel motivation is found in 1 John 4:19-21
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Hope focuses on the future.
Hopes misconceptions are that we do not need a future hope because we are in control of the direction our life is going in and therefore we are in control of our future. This is pure arrogance on a Christians part if you believe that you are in control of the helm instead of the great Captain himself. You are merely a potato peeler that likes to dress up in the Captains uniform and stand on your morally juvenile tiptoes and attempt to view the vast horizon before you; paying little to no attention to your wake left behind. Honestly we get in the the way more often than anything on the SS[your name here]. Never-the-less, God is in complete control and it a grand ploy by Satan that he can convince so many otherwise.
Now this concludes the bulk of my notes but this is coming somewhat along side a thought that I have been playing with for a few days now. That faith, hope and love are emotional representations of the Trinity itself.
Now this is still a working idea, one that I hope to expand on in my own reflection time but the basic thought is-
You must have faith in the Holy Spirit, hope in Jesus Christ and love of God the Father.
I can see a three point sermon from this very easily. Take time to expand on why each of these would be best suited for their trinity counterpart. Obviously you need all three emotional states with each member but there are specifics for why one may focus more faith, hope or love with each- ex. For God (the Father) gave his only begotten son... John 3:16
Who knows, maybe I will present this thought to a congregation one day. Until then, I happy as can be to share it with you.