WIMD Pulse - December 2012
WIMD, a Christian Community
By Brenda Abraham, MD
This fall, I have been attending a Sunday school class called “Grasping Truth - one step closer to applying doctrinal truths to everyday living.” 1Timothy 4:16 challenges us to, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV 1984).
One of the sessions really hit home to me as we discussed the church and explored the concept of Christian community. As we dove into what God's ideal church is (and is not) and the importance of regularly meeting in Christian community, it hit me anew how WIMD has been that for me and for so many of us over the years. Reviewing Scriptures that describe the universal church brought to my mind the community of WIMD and the many ways WIMD is the body of Christ.
The universal church can be thought of as a living spiritual body with Jesus Christ as the head, and all who are justified by God's grace as its members (Ephesians 4:15-16). Scripture describes specifics about God's ideal church, where we should associate for worship, service and community.
Church is a spiritual necessity. Interdependence is valued. Spirituality takes place in community, where there is active involvement in social concerns. All people are fully accepted together. And authentic behavior is present, with public and private lives matching (Foundations, Volume 2, Holladay and Warren, p. 174).
Wow! This sounds great, but it isn't so easy to be consistent about all of these! Just imagine if the church and each of our church homes, and WIMD and CMDA, would be able to live up to each of these! What an impact God could have through us if we actually lived our lives like that. Instead all too often we view church as an optional activity, with religion being a private matter, where segregation is practiced (racial, social, status, etc.), and where hypocrisy lives - saying one thing but practicing another. So if I examine myself, am I living up to God's ideal? Are you? Is WIMD?
There are many passages in the Bible discussing the importance of meeting in Christian community:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV 1984).
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5, NIV 1984).
“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NIV 1984).
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord...
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…” (James 5:13-16, NIV 1984).
We should all belong to a local church, and hopefully these churches do strive to follow Scripture and exist as an authentic Christian community. We can't underestimate the importance of a local church home. However, as I was reading much of the above Scripture, I could not help but think how WIMD has filled the role and functioned alongside my church, as a Christian community, these past several years.
I do see WIMD as a living spiritual body with Christ as the head. It is not just a group of women or a national conference. God brought us together to serve each other, to be a part of this body of Christ and to seek to follow Him. With WIMD, we have wonderful times of worship, and we do works of service individually and through our GHO trips to support ministries to victims of human trafficking. We come together in community as a large group nationally twice yearly (CMDA and WIMD conferences), at small group GPS retreats, as prayer/care/share groups and virtually as we connect via email, phone, text and prayer the rest of the year. We frequently acknowledge our interdependence and strive to reach out and accept newcomers into our group. Authentic behavior, being transparent to each other and being willing to openly share our struggles, opens the door for others to feel free to be honest and open to go deeper with each other and with God. We support, encourage and care for each other, but we can also be that iron sharpening iron, challenging each other when needed. When I go to sessions at a WIMD national conference or read a devotional that touches my heart, I am spurred on to good deeds and to continue to meet together to get to know new WIMD sisters. When hard times come to me, I am able to cry out to my WIMD friends (in person or virtually), and they have helped numerous times to carry my burdens, ease my pain, lift me up to the Lord, pray for me and sing songs of praise together. I have been anointed with oil and prayed over, and I have confessed my sins and struggles with my WIMD friends.
I thank God many times over for the community of WIMD, and for how He has used WIMD in my life and the lives of so many others. Our community is not perfect. But our eyes are focused on our Lord and serving our fellow WIMDers, and He is a gracious God. According to David Benner in his book Sacred Companions, "The task of spiritual friends is to help us discern the presence, will and leading of the Spirit of God. The essence of Christian spirituality is following Christ on a journey of personal transformation...Spiritual friends accompany each other on that journey"
I thank God for my WIMD spiritual friends, my sacred companions on this journey God has set before me and before each of us. My journey would be much different and more difficult without your unique companionship as we follow Christ!
P.S. If God is tugging at your heart and you desire to be more a part of the WIMD community or to check out a conference or small group GPS retreat, please contact our WIMD Administrative Assistant!