Before twitter and FB profiles, people’s titles were pretty bland. Manager of HR, IT director, Head Tech, Doctor, Driver, Pastor, etc. Titles don’t begin to really tell the story do they? Barista doesn’t say much about someone’s life and character, only what they get paid to do. Even names don’t say much about you. We know that names have historical meaning, but in reality we bring meaning & purpose to our names.

If I were to give myself some extra profile or work related names I’d say that I’m…
– an architect of community engagement
– a designer of authentic and truthful conversations
– discovering the art of neighbouring
Some of my friends got creative…
– Ambassador of Hope, CEO of Inspiration (Mike Crofts on his emails)
– Investor of people, distributor of Joy (Renzi Laserna)
– Bringer of laughter and joy (Joey Fletcher on his twitter page)
How would you describe a (our) church community, The Village? Some of you may know or remember this; before we launched and went public, we were known as _______ Church. Why? One, because we were figuring out who we were and who we wanted to be, and two, we had a feeling that no matter what we called ourselves, it would be how we lived, acted, worshiped, served, that would truly define who we were. A name on a sign doesn’t begin to tell the whole story. What we know for sure is that we are becoming a community of people who love God, love our neighbours, and make the world better. So we hope that people fill in the ________ with words like, hospitable, welcoming, loving, patient, foodies :), and other words like godly, Jesus followers, peace makers, etc. 
In our first instalment of this series, we started by saying WE ARE a LEARNING community. This is based on many places in the NT where we see followers of Jesus and subsequently, the early church, devote themselves to teaching. They were learners of the gospel message; discoverers of truth in Jesus; investigators of God’s Kingdom through the life and teaching of Jesus. But it can’t stop there. If we are only learners of the gospel, but never get around to living out our discoveries of truth, we are learning in vain.  This is why James says in his NT letter (1:22), Don’t just listen to the word and do nothing about it, Act on what you hear.
Henri Nouwen encourages us to live our way into a new way of thinking. NT Wright says that followers of Jesus should practice the art of living as good citizens…living (like) Jesus in public. 
But what does that mean? How does that play out? What kind of lives are we called to live, collectively and individually?
Here are a few things the Bible shows us – a few ways that our lives can and must reflect the faith we have in Jesus:
Lives defined by LIGHT

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul says something about Christ followers that is very important. He talks about what they ‘were’ compared who the ‘are’. He says that once their life was in darkness, but now it is light. And then he says, ‘Live as children of the light’.  

It’s hard to see darkness inside of you. It’s tough to identify what needs fixing. One thing we know, Jesus makes dark things light; he makes broken things whole. Our lives as followers of Jesus can and must be represented by light. John says something similar in his short letter (1 John 1:5). “God is light, in him there is no darkness…walk in the light as he is in the light.”

Lives exemplified by FRUIT

Both Jesus and Paul refer to our new lives as fruit bearing. If we are connected to the vine, and we are branches, then we are bound to bear fruit (John 15). This theme continues when Paul talks about the fruit of the spirit. He says that our lives bear fruit like love, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, etc. 

Of course Jesus words in Matthew 7 might be the most pointed. He says that we will be known by our fruit – known by what comes out of us. This of course can go one way or the another. Healthy trees grow healthy fruit, unhealthy trees grow…well, you get the picture.

I want to be known for things that make a difference, things that change the world, things that reflect the character of Jesus. 

Lives dripping with HUMILITY

The character of Jesus has always been closely related to humility. You can have all the good fruit you want, but if it’s served with a hint of arrogance, I guarantee you it won’t taste good at all.

James says (3:13) “Are any of you wise or sensible? Show it by living right and being humble…”
When Paul challenges us to be like Jesus in Philippians 2, he refers to the humility that drips from who Jesus is.
And way back during the time of the prophets, Micah (6:8) answers the question, God what do you want from me, by saying three simple things: act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases humility like this, “Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously”

When asked the question again, what does it mean to live out our faith in Jesus, these 3 things sums it up pretty well: Be Light – Be Fruitful – Be Humble! Are these the things people see in you, in us, in our church community? I hope so. Better question might be this: Is who we are, slowly, but surely, beginning to match up with who we want to become?

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(small group questions)

What kind of creative (job or non-job) title would you like others to know you by? Could you come up with one? If not a title, what’s one word that could define you?

James 1:22 says, Don’t just listen to the word and do nothing about it, Act on what you hear. What do you think about that? In light of that verse what do you think of this statement, If we are only learners of the gospel, but never get around to living out our discoveries of truth, we are learning in vain? Or this one, followers of Jesus should practice the art of living as good citizens…living (like) Jesus in public?

The Bible says that we should live as children of the Light. (Eph 5:18) How?

Jesus said we would be known by our fruit & Paul says that we can have the fruit of the Spirit? Is that evident in us…a little or enough? Is that fruit simply another way of saying that we can look and live like Jesus? What can we do to see these fruits growing in us?

Both James (NT) & Micah (OT) encourage us not to take ourselves too seriously, but to take God seriously. This has to do with humility. Why do we love humble people? What is attractive about it? How can it enhance all our other good and godly gifts and character traits?

Live Well!