There was a young family who plopped their beach necessities in front of me this morning. Chairs were placed, umbrellas were set, floatation devices inflated, suncreen applied, baby with big floppy hat propped up on bamboo mat, and just like that — another vacation was up and running.
The baby started to cry. Sherry leaned over and interrupted my reading. “Who would bring a baby to the beach?” she whispered. “Yeah, people would have to be nuts to hit the hot sand with baby in tow,” I replied. We both laughed because we’ve done exactly that four times over.
This young family caught my interest (as anyone does in close proximity to your own beach space). There wasn’t much communication. She had her trashy novel, and he nursed his Corona. I really don’t know if it was a trashy novel for certain. I’m not THAT nosey, but am obviously quite judgmental. Sorry. It was a Corona because I suddenly wanted one. I guess I AM that nosey. Sorry.
I hope I’m wrong, but it seemed like their vacation was from each other, although they were just feet apart in their lounge chairs. It seemed like something was missing, and they were being short-changed of what family could really be. I wonder how many families don ‘t experience fullness when it comes to doing life together. My study family left an hour before lunch, and their beach outpost remained empty for the rest of the day. Strangely and somewhat metaphorically for me, empty.
Sherry told me yesterday she had taken a walk with our older daughters, and they insisted we never stop taking study breaks. Even when they’re married and have kids, they want to come back for study break. I mentioned to Sherry their going to have to bring their own food!
The thought of study break with my grown kids, grand kids, and the inevitable and dreaded son-in-laws warmed my contemplative heart.
Sherry and I have worked hard at our family life. Intentional dinner table conversations, adventure, fun, Bible and prayer times, and study breaks are a few of the things we’ve employed to gain some family fullness. By midafternoon today, all six Scotts were crowded under the shade of umbrellas. I noticed laughter, conversation, and fullness. Our dinner tonight was followed by a great look at I Cor. 13, and what we hope for each other. More fullness.
Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, took me into the idea of fullness as well. This time with the Church. The fullness of Jesus resides in His Church. Knowing my calling, God’s power, and fullness happens within the context of Jesus’ Church — His body. (Ephesians 1:15-23).
Some would diminish Church by claiming it’s more than just a Sunday gathering. Usually an “organic” and vague appeal to church being more than corporate worship is given by those who are burnt by or tired of what corporate church has become. I do sympathize and understand that.
Jesus’ prevailing Church is more than our corporate gatherings, however, it also very much includes them. I know there are church-fried folks who would bark back and claim they are the Church, or there newly formed house church is all the Church they need. Such would weirdly claim they don’t need the church to be a part of the Church. I don’t think, however, those damaged people will find absolute fullness found only in Jesus Church — His body. Such negative church sentiments leave people short-changed. There’s something missing. Strangely, metaphorically, and literally empty.
Reading through Mark Driscoll’s “Vintage Church” has re-ignited my passion for Jesus’ Church, which MUST include corporate gatherings. Driscoll does a great job of weaving in cutting humor with Church doctrine and theology. This has not been a fast read, but the processing has been great for me.
It’s hard to dismiss, trivialize, or lessen Jesus’ Church, corporate or otherwise. After studying through the theology of preaching, church unity, church discipline, and trinitarian love expressed by the church, it becomes obvious how these ideas need relational and corporate structure to be fully lived out. There is simply too much church doctrine and theology to relegate to the “whatever” of post modern trends frowning on corporate church and relying solely on coffee shop religion. What does such religion do with obvious Biblical theology based on Jesus and His Church? Theology that’s not lived is either a rejection of truth or lifeless commentary.
For example, theology of unity can only take flight within the struggle of diverse relationships and commitments of a multi-faceted body. Theology of unity cannot be fully realized without the tension brought on by different people. Too many either quit each other or the church while believing their personal relationship with Jesus is really all that matters. Again, what does such a believer do with church doctrine and theology clearly propagated in scripture?
Doctrine lived becomes an effort to gain wisdom and revelation into the fullness of Jesus. Jesus’ fullness is ultimately found in His body, the Church. Giving up on the church becomes a capitulation of finding fullness in Jesus.
Dear God, help me to champion Jesus and His Church. Help me to be a part of the prevailing fullness of what Your Church is supposed to be… on Sundays and the rest of the week.