This week, we kick off a new Devotion series prepared by members of the BUV Support Hub’s Church Health and Capacity Building Team, looking at how the church can remain true to its biblical identity and calling during this period of disruption. Over seven weeks, we will look at seven different images used in the bible to describe what the church is called to be – Body of Christ, God’s flock, Temple of God , Family of God, God’s field, Golden lampstand and the Bride of Christ. We have included some questions also – these can be used in a small group setting as discussion starters or for personal reflection. We pray this devotion series will be a blessing to you and your church.
BUV Devotion Part 1
Remember Who You Are: The Church In An Unfamiliar World
by Rev David Devine
In my early 20s I was given a wonderful opportunity to travel and study overseas for five months. As I was departing to venture into a world of new challenges, opportunities and temptations beyond the secure familiarities of home, my dad offered me some wise advice: “Remember who you are.” It was a call to remain true to my heritage, beliefs and values – to still be `David Devine’ wherever I was.
Today the disruption caused by COVID-19 has cast us all into a different world beyond many of the secure familiarities of life as we have known it. This presents challenges, opportunities and temptations for individuals, families, nations – and churches. As churches venture into this disrupted world, it is good for us to remember who we are – remaining true to our identity, beliefs and values as we seek to continue living faithfully and fruitfully with God – still being the Church in our new contexts.
To encourage us in this, over coming weeks, members of the BUV’s Church Health & Capacity Building Team will offer short reflections on some biblical images of the Church.
Over the past 40 years or so, the most popular image of the Church has been: the Body of Christ (Rom 12:3-8; 1Cor 12:12-27; Eph 3:6, 5:21-33; Col 1:18, 24). This reminds us that the Church is not merely a social organisation; but an organic community in which we live and serve in relationship with Christ and one another. These relationships must remain central for us if we are to be the Church.
If the Apostle Paul was writing to Aussie Christians rather than Ephesians or Colossians, he might remind us that we are not to `run around like headless chooks’, reacting to our internal impulses or the latest sensation. The Body has a Head. The Church is to seek and follow the mind of Christ and to grow up into him – being shaped by the one who gives us life – becoming increasingly like him, not just individually, but in our life together. In a world disrupted by COVID-19, the Church is still to be directed by Christ.
Though isolated in our homes, we find ourselves immersed in an ocean of information – podcasts, videos, blogs, memes, webinars, breaking news. There’s an endless flow of ideas, facts and fluff that drives us to distraction and confusion – tossed back and forth by waves of fashion; blown here and there by every wind of opinion. In the face of this, let us remember that we are the Body of Christ. Let us give time to prayerfully listen to our Head and follow his lead, responding to the challenges and opportunities before us in ways that reflect and honour Christ.
Paul uses the Body image to remind us that following Christ’s lead is not a solo pursuit – we are in it together. In this time of social isolation, let us remember that through relationship with Christ, we are connected to one another. We belong to one body. The Church is diverse in ethnicity, social status, gender, and so on, yet united in Christ. We have different capacities to contribute, but we are all called to do what we can to love others and honour God.
In these days of isolation, let us keep pursuing ways to connect with one another, including reaching out to those who may be overlooked by others. Let us seek ways to use our God-given capacities to serve one another, sharing the love and truth of Christ. Let us remember and be true to who we are. We are the Body of Christ.
Questions for Personal and/or Group Reflection
1. What personal and congregational activities do you and your church have in place to foster relationship with God?
2. How does your church seek to discern the mind of Christ together?
3. How are you and your church acting to maintain contact with members of the body during these weeks of physical separation?
4. How does your church help people to discover what they are good at and empower them so that ministry is done by the many rather than the few? What are your gifts and how are you using them during this time
I hope you find this devotion and the discussion questions useful. We look forward to distributing Part 2 next Tuesday.
Rev David Devine
Head of Church Health & Capacity Building