We've just returned from the first of our Knowing God (midweek Bible Study groups) weekends away, where our assistant minister Matt Banks gave us four wonderfully encouraging and challenging talks on the topic of 'the church'. The first two talks focused on giving an overview of what the Bible says the church is.
Matt challenged us to think about where the church fits into God's plans, specifically asking the question: is the church the way God accomplishes things in the world (a 'means to an end'), or is the church what God is building on the rock of Jesus' death on the cross (the 'end of the means')? We touched on some images the Bible gives us for the church (Christ's Body, God's Household, A Temple for the Holy Spirit, etc...). We had the chance to think deeply about where the church is, the emphasis the New Testament places on the local gathering, and investigated the way this challenges us to realign our own sense of identity not as individuals, but - collectively - as a community.
Saturday always includes some great built-in time to relax. We slept, watched football, went on walks and just had the time to hang out and chat to each other over meals and a drink in the pub.
Sunday's talks helped us to think about some of the application of the theological truths we had seen the day before. Matt took us through Ephesians 4:1-16, dwelling on the responsibility that each of us has to "speak the truth in love" to each other if Christ Church Mayfair is to continue to grow up into maturity in Christ. We were also challenged to consider that being members of the church requires us to pursue a unity founded on humility. Considering others better than ourselves. Doing nothing out of selfish ambition. And, at the heart of all of our activity, proclaiming a gospel founded on grace.
As usual, the weekend went much too quickly for us, and we're rather envious of those who attend Thursday's meetings and have their weekend - with the same talks - to look forward to this coming Friday through Saturday. We'll make all of Matt's talks - and their outlines - available via our talks page after then!