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    The Community of the Cross

    As people of the cross, with our own failures and weaknesses, yet forgiven, accepted and loved by God, we will give each others room to grow and mature in the grace of Christ. April 21, 2011 by Major Doreen Sturge
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Recently I gave my friend a gift on which was written, “Friends are the family we choose.” What a wonderful gift is our circle of friends! We get to choose them but not family members. We are born into families and have to learn to live together. Sometimes this is painful. We may find it difficult to love Uncle Joe but there he is at the Thanksgiving table. He shows up at every family gathering. Wholesome families have learned to value each other in spite of personal idiosyncrasies and shortcomings.

    A Community Formed at the Cross
    The Gospel of John says that “When Jesus saw his mother [at the cross] and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son', and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother'. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27). Though experiencing excruciating pain, Jesus thought of the future well-being of his mother. He was the eldest son who needed to provide for her. He did not commit Mary to the care of his remaining brothers who had not believed in him as the Son of God (John 7:5) but to John, his beloved follower. And he gave John to Mary.

    Commentators Richard Bauckham and Trevor Hart state the implication of Jesus' action: “Just as Jesus' mother and [John] would not otherwise have been related had not Jesus at his death brought them together and charged them with being mother and son to each other, so the Church is the community of people who would not otherwise be related, but whom the crucified Jesus brings together, forging new relationships through his death for us.” All followers of Jesus are brothers and sisters. This fellowship, forged by the blood of Jesus, sometimes results in relationships that are deeper and richer than those experienced by blood relations.

    A Loving Community
    Years later, John wrote to the wider church community, emphasizing that the cross of Jesus expresses sacrificial love (I John 4:17-21). It is the practical demonstration of Calvary love that builds authentic Christian community and brings others into the kingdom of God. Though we are the fellowship of God's redeemed people, self-interest can still be an obstacle to the loving unity necessary to be a winsome Christian fellowship that demonstrates the love of God. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). But what does that love look like? “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another” (3:16). Ouch! That might be a challenge even within our own homes, let alone in the Church. Yet, we are called to display the characteristics of our Father God by laying down our lives for each another.

    Calvary love became a prominent theme in the correspondence sent to the various communities of the cross that sprung up after Jesus' resurrection: “… In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:5, 10). “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.... Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each another. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 4:2, 32; 5:21).

    Members of the community of the cross may need to let go of their wants, their dreams, their agendas. Stubbornness and pride, insisting on doing things “my way,” vying for position and being impatient with one another, speaking words that hurt—all reflect a need for God's family-building love. As people of the cross, with our own failures and weaknesses, yet forgiven, accepted and loved by God, we will give each others room to grow and mature in the grace of Christ.

    An Embracing Community
    In his book, Building People through a Caring, Sharing Fellowship, Pastor Don Bubna tells how he learned the supreme importance of Calvary love in church life. Bubna agreed to build a new Alliance Church in San Diego, California. George, a member of the church and a carpenter by trade who had been deeply hurt through the breakdown of his marriage, was asked to be the builder. George and Pastor Don worked side by side, sometimes praying together. George grew spiritually, was reconciled to his wife and they remarried. However, one evening, George informed Pastor Don that he and his wife were looking for a new church with a different slant to its preaching. “You teach right doctrine, but you don't emphasize the grace of God enough,” said George. The pastor felt devastated by this judgment, the loss of a hard worker and a close personal friend. Time passed. They would occasionally meet around town, but pastor Don put no pressure on George to return to the church.

    One day, when the church had a guest speaker, George and his wife decided to attend. It was like a homecoming. They were hugged and warmly welcomed. Many told them how they were missed. They came back another time. Eventually George met the pastor for coffee and before they parted said, “Do you know what I think is most important in the church? Doctrine is important, but one thing more so—love. We feel loved by these people. We're coming back.”

    If God loves all the peoples of the world (John 3:16), it follows that we who are his representatives in the world, must also be an embracing community. When trouble comes: sickness, death, job loss, and family disintegration; when people fail morally in making wrong choices—there is one place where they should be able to find people who will show love, compassion and the grace of God: in the community of the cross. May God help us to be that kind of church family.

    Comment

    On Sunday, April 24, 2011, Frank Pulver said:

    I hope I did not offend you or Ms Doreen, I am a person that is here to show my view points through my writings. I write alot of my thoughts are share them with my family and friends, I have met people all over the world through my thoughts and I share their thoughts. Here is one of my latest writings in which a friend from the UK sent me an idea about forgiveness.


    7x70 that Forgiving Love

    Can we remember those days when our Mom and Dad taught us what there is to know?
    Well as we get older sometimes we forget and say “no”.
    Then there are times we wish that we did remember and say “yes”,
    These are the times that can sneak up on us and that can be anyone’s guess.
    It is now time to talk about how we should forgive someone over the pain,
    Over time if we look back see what they tried to teach us, and then we can see what they wanted us to gain,
    Let’s now think of some of the things that ever went wrong,
    After reading this hopefully we all will see that we let them go by way to long.
    Here it goes, how many of are willing to admit that they are too scared to forgive someone overtime,
    Well, if you are then it is okay because there are times that we all feel this way, to be quiet like a mime.
    Even, if there are times that we are to be the blame,
    It is something most of the time that we can ask for forgiveness without shame.
    Admitting of being wrong or forgiving someone that has caused you harm is not a crime,
    Just think about it because it takes time.
    Yes, time is what we all need to take before we do things,
    Because if we do then it can see what Jesus said it can bring.
    In the Bible it tells the story of how Peter asked Jesus, how many times I should forgive someone that has done me wrong?
    Well how about Up to 7 times or is that too long?
    Jesus said to him that is it should be 7 x 70 because it should be the Forgiving Love from his heart.
    Yes, my words that I have written are not exactly out of the Bible, the heart of message is there,
    Ask for forgiveness or please try to forgive and show your family and friends that you care.



    Matthew 18:21-35 -----7 x 70 Forgiveness
    ;

    On Sunday, April 24, 2011, Major John Gerard said:

    Doreen is one of my Spiritual sisters. Doreen contributes and rightfully expects encouragement in return. This is a bond that binds the family of God together that makes us of one mind and spirit.Yet we have other brothers and sisters in the Lord who do not share our viewpoint. We do not ignore them but have fellowship when we meet. They can be likened unto our extended family.

    Our kinship in the Lord should always be outgoing to: others. Saved to serve. That is our motto. So let it be to enlarge the Kingdom of our Lord. Bring them in from the fields of sin.Labour as brothers in the field for our Heavenly Father.

    On Friday, April 22, 2011, Frank Pulver said:

    I am share my possible thoughts with my fellow Salvationists and hopefully they can see what I see that Christ has gone through for us in life, and what we should be willing to give up for him. Hopefully we will give up all sin.

    Being Crucified with Christ

    Can you hear the moans, the cries, and the wails?
    As the hammer strikes the nails,
    Can you hear the cursing and being spat upon?
    As He dragged the cross and how he probably felt withdrawn.
    Maybe not, but try to picture what it is like to be in his pain,
    And ask yourself by doing this what do I have to gain.
    This is a time in my life that I drop to my knees and cried,
    Because I started to know and understand why Jesus was crucified.
    I can see this is reality and not is just a fairytale.
    I can finally see of how he got treated like he was with Satan in Hell.
    As they beat him, He said,” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
    Well in my heart He still says this today, because there are plenty of people that might not know him even you.
    So please use your heart to feel and see the things that Christ did in his life for you and me,
    And try to see why I want to write this poem and use it as a testimony.
    Christ lived a long but short life, but he had a lot of trials and tribulations,
    And how He got accused of so many accusations.
    Now let’s follow the same steps that he took in life so that way he can try to make the same unselfish decisions.
    Give our Life for Him as He gave His life for us, the day that we show that we live for him is the day that his tears will turn to happiness because we fulfilled his vision.
    By Frank Pulver
    Community Worship Center of The Salvation Army, Lakeland, Florida

    Please understand as Paul wrote this in the Bible in Galatians 2:20--I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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