This week Graeme re-capped our engagement with Jesus’ revelation about ‘Redemptive, Incarnational Community’, that is, ‘Being present, IN love; WITHOUT judgement’ and then proceeded to explore a further revelation received about what holds the 100% human part of this partnership together IN Christ.

But firstly, Graeme re-stated that if the Church IS the Body of Christ, then according to Paul in Ephesians, the Church is the present manifestation of God in the world. We are Jesus IN AND TO the world, not just symbolically, but tangibly and accessibly. That is why we are here – this is what we were designed for and called to be. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul states that we are ambassadors for Christ; ministers of His reconciliation.

“I need to have a faith that fully trusts in the calling and activity of God among his people”, he said. “I truly believe that God has given and is giving us ALL that we require to see his kingdom come on earth – in our families – amongst  our friends – in our neighbourhoods –  as it is in heaven – The Current state of the world even DEMANDS IT! We need an incarnational common-unity that represents ALL of the culture of heaven so that we know each other and are known just like God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are distinct but are mutually indwelling; present in each other. TOGETHER WE ARE HEAVEN’S EMBASSY.”

Then Graeme reflected on what holds us close to God in ‘the divine dance’ by looking at the famous verses about the practices of the early believers in Acts 2: 42-47 IN LIGHT OF us being called by God to be

  • ambassadors and ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16ff);
  • to live a life according to the standard God set i.e. being empty of self so we can be filled with Christ and as such be fully equipped for a life of service which builds Christ’s body in LOVE (Eph. 4:1-16);
  • in ONE-NESS accord so we can attain Christ’s full stature (Acts 2:1; Eph. 4:13)

Graeme shared the belief of His heart that the first Church was ‘covenanted’ to each other. Covenant has been the most helpful and appropriate description of what he calls “the relationship of agreement” or the “intimate binding of souls with a common purpose”. He explained Covenant as the constitution of God’s rule OR the way the redeemed, incarnational community functions.

With all this in mind, blending it with the language used, the context and phrasing etc. Graeme shared his summary paraphrase of Acts 2:42-47 as a way to describe the church as an incarnational, redemptive and covenant community and as such give us some handles on how to represent Jesus more FULLY; both by ourselves and together.

Practical Application

Here is the comparison of the NIV version of Acts 2:42-47 and Graeme’s paraphrase description of what an incarnational, redemptive, covenant community could look like. Spend some time this week praying for clarity and understanding. Write down in your journal what the Holy Spirit reveals to you about how you might apply this to your daily life in your family, neighbourhood, workplace, community involvement space and then share it with someone over a cuppa and see if together you can think of how church life could adapt to be more like this. Be as specific as you can ….

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)                                                                                                                                          42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47 (Graeme)

42Those who made a public stand to follow Jesus made a covenant agreement with each other to fully represent the culture of heaven on earth so that wherever they were, whenever they were there, Jesus might be visible and accessible. In order to keep the covenant relevant and encourage each other to stay mutually accountable to it, they took turns at inviting the others over to their homes to celebrate Christ crucified over a simple meal and to use the language of heaven to bless and to serve each other.  

43-45Everybody was drawn closer to Jesus as they lived their daily lives supernaturally i.e. as a direct expression of all the transforming power and redeeming righteousness that comes when heaven is open for ALL to experience it.

Recognizing that the Father God’s provision is always beyond the sum of what the believers were stewards of at any given time, the resources were regarded as heaven’s and not any one individual’s. In this way no one ever felt they were a burden to the community and everyone believed they were contributing according to the grace apportioned to them.       

46-47Everyday, the body of Christ would gather in some Spirit-led way at the coal face of the neighbourhood hub or market place. As God appointed and anointed, they would equip each other for service so that Jesus could reveal his kingdom come and his will being done to whoever would receive this truth. In this way, that is, Jesus building HIS church,  the body of Christ was built up.               

Retiring to their homes at the end of each day they would share stories of kingdom advance and would celebrate the harvest. More and more people responded to the invitation to the divine dance and the church kept maturing, reaching to the height of Christ’s full stature.”

Extra Individual Response or Group Questions

  1. Read a few verses of Acts 2. When Graeme proposed that ‘the oneness of the redeemed community demonstrates ‘the divine dance’ (i.e. the way that the 3 in one of God relate intimately to each other and extend this intimacy to you and I), what is revealed to you as you match this idea with the verses you have just read? Helpful? Not helpful? Why? Why not? Now read John 17:20-23. Do these verses add any clarity?
  2. ‘God’s people being one, spiritually and functionally, is God’s message to the world—it is both evangelistic and prophetic.’ Reading a few more verses around John 17:20-23, what do you think this statement by Graeme’s friend David Orton is about?
  3. Graeme described ‘covenant’ as the constitution of God’s Kingdom rule (i.e. His rule on earth through us, as it is in heaven) OR the way the redemptive, incarnational community functions. From all you’ve been reflecting on, what might be some of the implications of this idea for you as an individual? As the church? The nation even?
  4. Share any or all of your reflections with someone else or even a small group and discuss ways to apply any practical truths and steps you can take this week? Next week? This year?  

Further reading:

Ephesians 3; 2 Corinthians 5; Ephesians 4:1-16; Acts 2; John 17