Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                                    May 4, 2009
Church Designed to Rid Us of Self
My Reflections
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is Sunday, May 31.
Dear ,
I once read in one of Gene Edwards's little books, A Tale of Three Kings, that those who want to possess a heart like King David's enroll in the "school of brokenness": a school from which one never graduates. The older I get, the truer I believe Edwards's statement to be.
If the believers you've chosen to journey with have caused you pain, take heart. It's all part of the process - a process that, if you choose to hang in there, leads to a heart like David's.

QUESTION/TOPIC IN FOCUS: Why can deep fellowship with other believers be so painful?

Church Designed to Rid Us of Self
Excerpted from Rethinking the Wineskin by Frank Viola
violaWhile the institutional church does a good job of protecting us from one another, the church of Jesus Christ is designed to rid us of self. It does so by bringing us into intimate contact with our fellow brethren.

Stated simply, the early church was profoundly relational. Believers were being knitted together continuously (Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:19). For this reason those who meet according to NT lines often encounter the cross in one another as they seek to dwell as one Body (Eph. 4:1-3).

Because we are fallen, we find ourselves suffering with one another. But such suffering is an instrument of His cross. And it is designed to transform us. As we meet the cross in one another, dying to ourselves, the Spirit of God begins the wonderful process of forming Christ into us corporately.

Recall how the acacia boards in the tabernacle of old had to be cut, shaped, and fitted together to make up the house of God. So it is with the church today. We all must undergo the cutting of the cross if we will be "builded together" to form God's habitation (Eph. 2:22).

The church, therefore, is not a collection of isolated Christian units meeting together as a congregation. Never! The church is a company of Christ-indwelt men and women who are being formed together by the power of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the church cannot be measured by individual units alone. It is a corporate life. A collective spiritual organism (2001:114).
My Reflections 
cross_yellowFor me, the following was a great lesson learned. For brevity, I've paraphrased, but you'll get the point.
In Genesis God comes to Adam and says, "I want to make a bride for you, but to do it I'm going to have to put you to sleep." In other words, Adam, I'll need to temporarily kill you so I can go in and get that rib.
In the gospels, something very similar happens. God comes to Jesus, the second Adam, and says, "I want to make a bride for you, but to do it I'm going to have to put you to sleep." In other words, Jesus, I'll need to temporarily kill you so I can pull the church out of your side (but instead of a rib, a Roman guard pierces Jesus's side).
Although the above isn't intended to be a theological treatise, you get the point. I got it while in prayer one day when God said to me, "Traver, I want to make a bride for you, but to do it I'm going to have to put you to sleep." And that's when I learned this very important lesson. My job is to compensate for all my wife's weaknesses and then never make her feel bad about it (as that's precisely what Jesus did for me).
What I didn't know at the time is that the dying-to-self process doesn't stop with marriage. That's just the starting point. I must do the same for my children and the church. And it can be rather painful.
I was at a gas station a few years back, praying about some of my frustrations with fellow believers when God said to me, "Traver, why don't you love my wife?" I was crushed. But since then, slowly but surely, God's helped me to be more like him - in my marriage, with my children, with much church family. It's all part of the process.
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table