Vineyard Church | Weekly Update July 3rd, 2024

adam greenwell billings churches billings vineyard church church consumerism galatians tribalism weekly update Jul 03, 2024

Well, I’m back…

This week is the weird post-break time that makes me wish both that I was still on a break, but also wish that I never took a break in the first place. As important as rest and restoration is, I don’t like being away and I am not a fan of all the stuff we come back to after a break. I wonder why the air conditioning unit waits until I leave to bust itself, or why the Yellowstone County Sheriff chooses to leave an RV from a dude they locked up in our parking lot when I am gone, but these things are sure to happen as soon as I ease myself into vacation mode! The fact that our staff and volunteers are better at handling this stuff than I am sure helps, and that blessing is something I deeply appreciate.

Another piece of taking a break that is difficult for me is taking all of the stuff that has happened, all of the things I want to tell you about and giving it to you without the gush of the firehose, while recognizing that just because it impacted me doesn’t mean it will have the same affect on you. As I check the connection between the hose and hydrant, I will try to keep that in mind… So, stand by!

For more than a season or so, I have been feeling the Holy Spirit speak something and prompt me towards something that has directed most of our teaching series, small group offerings, workshops, and blog/vlog posts, and something that I have had a lot of discussions about with the people that mentor me and lead me. Local folks like Brad Hudson, Rory Wilson, Sandy Wilson, Gary Ostlund, Carolyn Ostlund, Eze Grantham, and Susan Patton, and less local folks like my coach or my mentor, have spoken words and helped me articulate what was in my head, all run through their filters of experience and wisdom. What makes their discernment and wisdom resonate with me is that each of them has lived what I think the Lord is calling us to recognize.

This is something that our current culture makes difficult to hear, especially when viewed from the perspective of the influence on culture that seeker sensitivity and legalism has had on the development of churches and followers of Jesus. The difficult reality is this: we have to sacrifice somethGalariing. This message loses appeal in the face of messages of tribalism and consumerism, and runs counter to the self-centered paradigm that our society has become immersed in. While the idol of self-help is not new, it certainly has powerful expressions of worship in our time.

Tribalism works against the message because fractures and divisions are so great, whole identities are created by them. This allows for people to speak to an identity group rather than to an individual, leading to group messages that are often more about how wrong others are rather than how others might be served. The resulting relationship between the influencer or leader and the members of the group is hollow and will collapse in on itself when pressure comes.

Consumerism is avenue for the degradation of relationships, and it has taken a weird, diabolical turn in our collective lifetime. In the past, companies had to produce something in order to make a profit. Now, the richest companies in the world do not produce anything and have more wealth than my feeble mind can fathom. These companies make more money than some nations in the world and they accomplish this by making us the product rather than producing anything of use or value. Because we are the product, we are sold to, enticed, manipulated, spied upon, and told what to value while being assured that we are valued… as long as we continue to consume. I have more to say on both of these points, but for now, back to the main idea. We are called to sacrifice, not consume.

Paul takes what he learned from Jesus and gives us this: "For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better." – Philippians 1:21 (NLT). In Galatians, we have seen this perspective as he wrote "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20 (NLT).

What Paul is relating is that Jesus was crucified, Jesus sacrificed his life as payment for my separation from God (sin). When we accept this sacrifice as being done on our behalf, our life apart from God is killed with Jesus and a new life begins, a life that pursues the will of God as its only passion.

Dying to self is not optional. Jesus makes this clear in Matthew 16 and Mark 8 when He calls his followers to give up (read sacrifice) their selfish ways, pick up the cross and follow Him. Likewise, in Luke 14, Jesus clearly states that whoever does not make this sacrifice cannot be his disciple. Peter in 1 Peter 2:24, and Paul in Romans 6 and Galatians 2 specifically, but in all of his letters generally, make the point that we must die to self in order to follow Jesus. We sacrifice something.

This means that the church is built upon the example of Christ, who gave it all up for everyone else. We now must give it all up for everyone else, which means tribalism, consumerism, and self-centeredness get nailed to the cross and die. We lose our life, and we step into the reality that this death is gain as we grow in Jesus.

While this blog needs to come to an end, the conversation is far from over. I look forward to sharing more next week at our Family Meeting, July 10 at 6:30 pm. If the Vineyard is your home, your church, your community of brothers and sisters, please plan to attend.

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