Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Church

My church just recently went through The Monday Morning Church by Jerry Cook in our small groups. We were also incredibly fortunate to have Jerry come and spend the weekend with us, you can listen to his messages here. Do it, they're awesome.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second book by this author (Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness) and the more time I spend with Jerry, the more I like him. MMC builds on the themes establish in LAF: what it means to be "the Body of Christ," being empowered by God's Spirit, and continuing the ministry of Jesus to the world but this book digs a little deeper into how we, as individuals, are able to do that.

In the introduction, Jerry says,
"The essential gospel centers on the person of Jesus, not the church, not even evangelism. The gospel is Jesus...the person of Jesus can only be clearly communicated through people in whom He dwells."
I love this, I absolutely love it.

If we are to be the "body of Christ," we have to understand who Jesus is, what He did during His life, and what He wants to do through His people. Everything we do individually and corporately should be directly linked back to the person of Jesus.

There are four sections to this book:

Part 1: Where is God on Monday
This section outlines the issues with viewing church as a place or a list of activities and shifts the focus to the church as a body of people. When the church is people, it draws God near to us and makes Him personal, it's like the second incarnation. Jesus made it possible for God to be near, Emmanuel: God with us, and the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to "be" Jesus. When we tell people that God is near to them and they don't have to come to Him because He is chasing after them, it's important to remember that we're talking about ourselves!

Part 2: Who You Are
Building on Colossians 1:27, the idea that Christ is now in us, we can have the confidence to do the work of God. Even those who have been Christians for most of their lives still struggle with insecurity. Jerry explains that because God Himself rests in us, we don't have to be afraid to do His work, we don't have to struggle with who we are because He has made us into new creations and He is continuing to transform and empower us to do the specific work He has planned.

I love this section because it focuses so heavily on how deeply God loves us and the fact that he has willingly chosen us to be His body. I like that :)

Part 3: What You Have
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Eph 1:16-19

If we accept our new position, literally in Christ, then we must also understand the inheritance He has given us: hope, power, freedom, life. You don't need to be disheartened by the weakness of your dying flesh because of God's promises, but we do need to accept these promises. Walking in self-doubt or self-loathing denies the reliability of His promises and it makes us kind of useless.

In order to be the church, we have to accept the tools that He has given us as well as the incredible potential and purpose we now have. We are God's masterpiece and He has a magnificent destiny for us.

Part 4: How You Live
I love it that only one small section of a book about being the church is focused on the "Christian lifestyle stuff." We tend to focus to much on what a Christian life should (or shouldn't) look like in terms of the things we do rather than who we are. And even this section focuses on how who we are in Christ naturally grows into how we live our lives. The fruit of the spirit doesn't come before the tree and the quality (and quantity) of the tree is dependent on the health of the tree.

While this section is incredibly practical, Jerry also makes sure to emphasize that our lives are a work in progress. The point is relationship and growth, not perfection. When we look at "the Christian lifestyle" and then our own, the huge disparity can be depressing or disheartening, but when we look at our lives moment-by-moment, as a series of opportunities to choose the new over the old and to learn how to use this new spirit in us, the process is not only more manageable but actually exciting. Our failures are not cause for despair but opportunities to learn and grow.

Personally, as a Christian woman who struggles with the subject, I deeply appreciated how Jerry handled the section on submission: sensitive, logical, in line with "the whole of scripture" and very Christlike.

I love reading books by Jerry Cook because he manages to find a perfect balance of practical instruction with inspirational truths.

Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness: Being Christian in a Non-Christian World

View all my reviews

What are you reading these days??

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