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Five Keys for a discipling Community and the healing vision

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Love: the Dynamic of the Discipling Community
Love: the Dynamic of the Discipling Community
Love is the essential expression of the nature of God: God is love.Discipleship is becoming like Christ – the process of transformation by God’s love: becoming conformed to and transformed by that love.The community of faith, the church, is the context in which that transformational process is lived out. Community is both product of and essential to that process.
The Relational Bedrock of Any Church
God must be God and love must be enoughLove is worthWorth is honourHonour is dignity, freedom, affirmation and recognition.
The Relational Bedrock of Any Church
To live out love is to:Reflect worthHonour individualsEmpower communityResist controlTo have confidence in the Holy Spirit and in others.
The Distortion of Sin
We cannot adequately frame the utter distortion of sin of our lives – our perspectives, understandings, reactions, indeed our entire psyche is radically distorted by the power of sin.
Understanding the Real Problem
Sin is experienced as worth-lessness.The effects of sin is a scaring of identity that at its very core is understood in terms of loss – loss of love, loss of worth, isolation, emptiness, despair.Such loss is well expressed in the increasingly developing understanding of shame.
Identity and Sin
If the idea of the sinful nature has any real meaning it is to the extent that it captures the reality of the loss of our identity in God, and the inadequacy of our awareness of that loss . That loss is as a result of an absence of adequate relationship with God – a relationship designed to shape our identity in His image. Our self-image, the understanding we have of ourselves and our existence, is one that is shaped by lost relationship (sinful nature) rather than the One in whose image we were created.
Understanding the Real Solution
The solution to sin and identity shaped by sin is love. It is God’s love administered to our lives through God’s grace.The effects of love is the restoration of those things fundamental to the image of God in which we are made – all of which combine to fulfil the deepest need for relational love.Love is the only adequate response to sin.
A Thought to be Considered
Our classical understanding of entire sanctification, best understood as the heart filled with perfect love, is an adequate and total response to the sinful nature – it is therefore a response to the shame identity. Our identity is found in Christ and not in our distorted shame filled sense of self. At the core we are transformed from darkness and shame to light and love. “My ego identity is crucified with Christ so that it is no longer my ego identity that lives but Christ that lives in me; the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
Sanctification and Shame
Initial sanctification – the acceptance of love.Entire sanctification – the transformation of core identity.Progressive Sanctification – the transformation of psyche.
The Transforming Nature of Love
The Reception of divine love makes us more like Christ.It is the very defences that we have created across our lives to our shame shaped identity being discovered that resist love. Discipleship is creating a context in which we can help one another receive love.
The Transforming Nature of Love
Love can be received in many ways and our responsibility is to multiply those ways. Wesley's concept of the “means of grace” provide many such ways. To act in love toward each other creates the context of grace. It is vital that we remember that God has already begun the process through God’s prevenient grace.
The Healing process
As love transforms us our need to protect our fearful hearts is reduced; we willingly give ourselves over to our identity in Christ. Our defence mechanisms, designed to protect that which is feared as unacceptable, collapse before the force of love. We live lives that are not self-protecting because our self is in Him. We are therefore more able to give ourselves to valuing love – love that others experience as worth.
Our communities become healing communities as the defenceless gather for His glory. Our sacred task is to create communities of worth where the power of love can transform each other in an environment of openness.
The Five Marks of a Healing Community: Keys to Wholeness
TrustSafetyVulnerabilityBelongingAffirmation
Trust
Trust requires an unshakeable commitment to honest struggle. The creation of trust is not about perfect performance but about transparent process.Trust exists not in our confidence that another will not hurt us, but in the person as God sees their worth and potential.
1 Corinthians 3:7
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV)bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NASB)Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. (JB Phillips New Testament)
Safety
A safe environment involves a commitment to providing a space where one will not be intentionally hurt or shamed. It is an empathetic environment. It is not one in which there is no possibility of being hurt but one where pain is understood and shared.Hurt that may occur comes as a result of the frailty of our humanity and is an expression of shame – it is dealt with honestly and apologetically. To apologies is to express empathy. An inability to apologise is an expression of shame and undermines safety.“Empathy is an invitation to intimacy” – John Comstock
Vulnerability
The most terrifying attribute of the healing community is that it is a place of vulnerability. It is a place where those engaged in the ministry of healing are the one that live unguarded lives. There must be a willingness to live at the place where we can be hurt if there is going to be true healing.
Vulnerability
There is no place for the so called “finished product” in this environment. The days of speaking about sanctification as if the one speaking has arrived must be gone. While we maintain the ever present possibility of being entirely sanctified it is in the context of being constantly sanctified, transformed, and healed.
Vulnerability is true conversation
On every page of Wesley’s works, dialogue “is writ large.” God speaks, man responds. But also, man speaks and God listens and answers…Man may begin this exciting adventure a shrivelled, pinched, distorted self, but in the encounter of dialogue he cannot remain small. As he opens himself to God, he opens himself to men also, and expansion and depth and transformation take place.1
1M.B. Wynkoop,A Theology of Love: The Dynamic of Wesleyanism, Second Edition(Kansas City: NAZARENE Publishing House/BEACON HILL, 2015).
Belonging
We must offer the gift of belonging before we can offer the grace of transformation. We cannot point to people’s inadequacies and suggest some type of transformation is needed prior to acceptance. Acceptance comes first. To belong is the beginning of honour.
1 Peter 2:10
…for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Affirmation
The rhetoric of the healing community is of one another’s worth. Every opportunity to point to the reality of worth must be taken if we are to be a healing community.We affirm by listening.We affirm by acknowledging both struggle and success.We affirm by allowing free choice.
Affirmation
We affirm through ministry being an expression of giftedness not institutional requirements.We affirm by recognising personality differences and experiential predispositions.
Shameless vs Shame free
To be shameless is to create a defence mechanism against personal shame that is impervious to any form of challenge – it is a pathological condition.To be shame free is to discover our identity in Christ, have our memories healed of their sting and to be daily being transformed from the habitual psychological patterns of shame.To be shameless is to have no restraint on inflicting pain upon another. Shame is often seen to have positive guiding and controlling impact upon a community and to be shameless is to live without regard to those restraints.To be shame free is to be guided by love as our restraint rather than shame.
A vision of the future
In order to see where the church can be we must see it for what it is intended to be.No vision for the church can be truly complete if it does not include bringing healing from shame and hope for a shame free community.
A vision of the future
A vision of the future must reflect the reality of truly transformed lives united together by a God given passion to bring that same transformation to those that have not received it.To make that transformation available to the shamed is to create shame free communities that understand the imperative of the five keys.
“We are debtors to every man to give him the gospel in the same measure in which we have received it.”-P.F.Bressee
A vision of hope and healing
Across the Australian north and west district each local church, unique in its history, mission, and presence, will be a fellowship of grace, creating an environment free of shame and filled with holy love that brings honour, dignity, and healing to each and everyone it encounters. Our local churches will be Unique in context but common in hope. This commonality will give us a unity of purpose, a shared passion, a deep respectful love for each other’s reality, and an uncontained joy at being in mission together.

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Five Keys for a discipling Community and the healing vision