01 December 2009

Great Doddington - What is church?

As we chatted over coffee and biscuits the conversation turned to thoughts about faith, healing, and salvation. What is church?Healing in particular seems to be quite common at some times and in some places, but not all the time and everywhere. So what should we expect in our own lives and those of people we know? What should we expect in our own towns, villages, and workplaces?

Glenn shared about events in Argentina that he'd read about in a book years ago. Extraordinary events with strong evidence. And this prompted Barbara to tell us how she'd been praying for someone's health and had felt overwhelmed by a sense of peace, certainty, and faith. She'd been able to prayer in a different way as a result, knowing that her prayer was heard and answered.

We also chewed over some of the great mysteries that are presented in the Bible. In particular Jody wondered how it could be that the Almighty would instruct Israel to utterly destroy defeated enemies like the ancient city of Jericho. To our human understandings there is a disconnect here. How can it be right to put  men, women and children to the sword? How can it be just? Obedience demanded it, but it seems a very odd instruction. Today it would be declared genocide and the UN would intervene.

It's a good question and not easy to answer. It seems barely sufficient to argue that those were the days of the Law and today we live under a dispensation of grace. I pointed out that Old Testament events of this kind translate very powerfully into our own lives. Have I 'killed' all the dark and wrong things in my own heart? Am I clinging to remnants of my past, unsaved life? If so, they will surely come back to bite me. Yet there will be a kind of suffering (or at least discomfort) in giving them up. But the reason must be far deeper, something to do with the nature of Yahweh himself. He is love, but he is also jealous and just and pure and holy. He is gentle but also terrible.

Another topic we considered was 'What is church?' We agreed that we need to grow into fellowship on an altogether different level. Are we really closely enough involved in one another's lives? If one of us feels lonely, or far from the Lord - how can we help one another? And are we reaching out into a lost world as we should?

I recounted Floyd McClung's story about the young lady who asked for prayer. She said she wanted patience. He began praying for tribulation in her life - not at all what she had expected to hear. Some of us thought that asking for tribulation in someone's life was a dreadful thing to do, and I do understand why we might think so. But Floyd was not being unkind, he was encouraging her to understand the basis for the growth of patience in a person's life. It's not that our Father is being cruel to his children, he is actually working hard and at great cost to dig us out of the pit that we are in - but he didn't put us into that pit in the first place.

We read Psalm 107 from verse 4.

And finally we linked arms in a circle and prayed for one another.


  1. I purchased a book written by Larry Kreider & Floyd McClung. I was going to email and ask you if you had heard of Mr. McClung. No need to do that now. Not sure I would have been bold enough to pray tribulation on another, however Romans 5:3 tells that tribulation does work patience in us. Very bold, but true. We are in grace. Jesus is the express image of God. Father, being just demands righteousness. When Jesus came and redeemed us, he took our brunt. Now we live in grace and not the law. The point is quite sufficient and I believe you were spot on the matter. This does bring me however to a point of re~evaluation. I need to inventory my thoughts and attitudes, actions as well. Thank you for the encouragement there.

  2. Thanks for the helpful comments, Teresa. Much appreciated.



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