Building your Emerging Church from 2 Peter 3: 1-9
Do you feel conflicted? Is your life and church in chaos or perhaps headed that way? Is your church fragmented or fractured or factored in Christ? This passage in 2 Peter is showing us that God is effectually real and He promises Christ's return to us! We have the reality of Who and What Christ is and what He still is to do! Being fractal in today's jargon can be a lot like being conflicted or confused or navigating those rough waters of leadership and personal life, where the leader or the church too is fragmented in a distorted shape. This is because we are fractured to self-similarity and not lined up to "Christ-similarity" so we navigate on both a good and bad path or perhaps on a way to a split. But, fractal faith means our faith is based on reality; just as mathematician's integers are real, we have the structure of Christ and His reality and thus we can navigate our Emerging Church in real Truth or as Schaeffer coined, "true-Truth," practicing a real impacted faith in and to a society that does not know it is there. We can be a local church that proclaims Him boldly and in Truth and in love so people can know Him in their lives personally and effectually. Their life journeys can be impacting and wonderful if the church is lined up to the Word of God and communicates His truth to all generations. This is because we are the Leader has what J. Edwards stated as, "that will melt and humble the hearts of men". Thus, we are not fractured or conflicted; rather we are factored in Christ, our hearts and minds have Him as our navigational beacon for faith and life.
Peter restates his purpose, desiring to get his people thinking about Christ-not the trends of the day, not the new philosophies or false teachers, or the scoffers. He wants them and us focused upon Christ and the precepts and hope He brings. Our thinking needs to be based on Christ, not what we want or how we think things should be. This takes trust and foresight of hope. God wants us to understand that He has real, true substance for us to know and do! The people we are called to reach need this desperately; they need to know there is real truth and there is hope for their lives now and forevermore. We have the responsibility to know this trust and hope and put both into our lives and practice them.
Peter then cements his reprimand by showing his people the ultimate hope we have in Christ, that our life is all about Him-what He has done, and what He is yet to do. And, the big yet to do is His Second Coming. Yet, in the midst of our great hope, there will be hurts and even great distracters who seek to derail us from His tracks by seeding our fears and unbelief. Do you know why truth is important? If a false teacher can't get you to see a variant view of a skewed truth, they will turn and ridicule real truth. Thus, they will get you to laugh at the truth to demean it so you will not take it seriously. Scoffing puts the item being scoffed at down while it lifts up the scoffer. Pride is at the base of this, which is always the way Satan works. They will say, "Do you really believe that? How can you take that seriously?" We are to understand where their arguments come from-mainly from faulty thinking and conniving agendas causing us to forget God's promises and even His past provisions.
Peter was writing about some of the same root problems we face today, namely, those of forgetting Christ's power and impact. So, he shows them from God's Word. He has apostolic authority and is a principal church leader with the job of giving them instructions. The problem is that the depraved human mind still will refuse to listen, no matter by what means or authority the message is relayed. God's patience with and love for us is so amazing! Peter is calling us to think back to what the Lord has done for us, so we don't forget His grace, His provisions, His answers to our prayers, and His blessings. We are not to be overcome with the struggles of the moment so we do not see how He has brought us through them in the past. We are to refresh our memory in Him.
Peter is restating his purpose of being an encourager and, at the same time, shepherding them, just as church leaders must do today! A shepherd protects his sheep. If the sheep run astray, he will do what it takes to keep them stay-put and safe, even if he has to beak their legs so they will not be eaten. A pastor needs to rout out false teachers and discipline those who cause others to stumble so people can know real, effectual life, hope, and truth. If not, they will fall prey to things that are misleading, counterfeit, and dangerous. We can't just look the other way, hoping it will all work out. We have to be proactive and engage the enemy, even the ones in our own flock. Of course, we do this in love-but not just with feelings of love because we will not feel like loving them and, unless one has a disparaging personality, dispensing discipline will not be a joy. However, we are called to act and to do so within the Fruit of the Spirit and love, carrying a staff to remove the wolves that desire to carry off our flock.
We also need to see the legacy of our church from the shoulders on which we stand. The Emerging Church may be new but the Church is not. We participate in the Kingdom of Christ that is lasting and eternal. It was here before we came onto the scene and it will be here long after we are gone. It is a living community, living in Christ. It is evolving and applying to new peoples, cultures, traditions, and ethnicities. We, as His leaders, facilitate this by being the examples and trainers. The Mainline and even the Evangelical and Reformed Church is very different today as compared with twenty, fifty, or a hundred years ago, and it will be different in India and Australia, in Madrid and L.A. California, and it will be different tomorrow. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ and His Truth remain true and the same.
Peter warns us to be aware of your evil desires. Not being rooted in good thinking will create evil, stemming from a lack of accountability or a basis upon which morality is to be built. Keep this imperative in mind to help your anchor remain in Him. God is sovereign and in control! God's mighty hand was in the environment and in humanity before the beginning of time, and continues today and on into eternity. He will judge the quick (alive) and the dead (Acts 10:42; 1 Peter 4:5; The Apostolic Creed). He made the universe; He made you for a plan and a purpose. You are no mistake, nor is your church; therefore, you are wanted and have a destiny. Thus, we are called to realize that and not let false teachers, scoffers, and/or connivers distract us from seeing Christ and applying His Lordship to our lives.
Questions to ponder:
1. Has someone ever made a promise to you and then not follow through with it? How did you feel? This is why some postmodern people feel betrayed. They see the Church making a promise but not delivering. What do you think? How can we rectify this?
2. Can you give a personal example of someone scoffing at Christianity?
3. How does remembering what our Lord has done for you in the past help strengthen your faith for the future?
4. How important is the "Second Coming" to you in how you live your life?
5. Do you realize that most arguments with God come from our faulty thinking and conniving agendas, causing us to forget God's promises and even His past provisions?
6. What are some of the fears and unbeliefs that you have heard people say about Jesus?
7. How does scoffing put the item being scoffed at down, while lifting up the scoffer? What are some good responses you can train your church to give?
8. How and why does laughing at a truth demean it, causing us not to take it seriously?
9. Where does your thinking on the direction you lead your church need to be stimulated?
10. What does it mean to be established in your faith?
11. How does keeping your mind in Christ enable you to practice and model His precepts, character, and maturity? What blocks this from happening in you?
12. What happens to you personally when you forget about Christ's power and impact on you? What happens to your church?
13. Why is it that some people will refuse to listen to truth, no matter by what means or upon whose authority the message comes? Is there something your church can do better to show His love and Truth?
14. How does it make you feel and/or strengthen your faith that God intervenes, cares, and He is involved, with the intention of making a plan and a purpose for you?
15. What about the idea that you are no mistake; so therefore, you are wanted and have a destiny? So, what can you do to put His willingness to infuse and use you into practice? How do we live lives and show this to the postmodern people we minster to that all are worthy of being giving grace and excellence in our character for His glory and our contentment in Him?
16. Why do you suppose that many have mistaken the term last days to mean that Jesus is right around the corner? Maybe He is; but, do you realize that for countless generations, the people saying that have been wrong and missed the point? What do you think the point is?
17. Have you ever thought that God seems slow? What needs to take place so we can understand that we can have patience and trust in Him and His timing?
18. What do you need to do so to be always thinking about Christ? To be focused upon Christ?
19. How would focusing your mind more on being in Christ help you see the hope He brings? How would it affect your daily life? What is stopping you from doing this?
20. What can you do, as your lead your church, to point to God's Promises? How can you live and implement "fractal faith" to show the people God brings you and the ones you go to that faith is based on reality? How would this help you navigate your Emerging Church in real Truth in and to a society that does not know it is there?
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org