5 ways we experience the power of the gospel in community #Shared Life

Reflection:

At St George’s we love the community that God has blessed us with – and it’s vital we continue to build that! This blog explains 5 ways in which the gospel can impact us sharing life together as a community in incredible ways. Which one of these especially stands out for you? What prevents you from letting the gospel impact the way you share life with others?  Jesus calls us to a community which is outward focused and supportive of each other, where there is no shame but real vulnerability and where we join together to do mission. How can you contribute to this kind of community within the students at St George’s? 

(Find this blog at: http://theresurgence.com/2014/01/29/5-ways-we-experience-the-power-of-the-gospel-in-community)

 

We were saved into community. God has gathered under his roof an enormous crew of former rebels, and he has turned us into family. Christian community is where we get to experience the power of the gospel in its full power.

From Pastor Ryan KearnsDan Hallock has been a friend of mine since we first met in seminary. He is one of the smartest guys I know, and he has an incredible heart for loving people and building community in the local church. He is a gifted leader who has recently transitioned into the lead pastor role of his church. What I love most about reading his writing is knowing it reflects exactly what he is living out.

Most kings build moats around their castles to keep their enemies out. But the King of Kings built a bridge to his castle on the back of his own Son in order to let his enemies in. Who does that? Only the one true God, Jesus Christ.

Jesus left his castle, showed up in enemy territory, and built a bridge with his own blood in order to bring us home on his back. And even when we disdained Jesus and his bridge, he graciously gave us saving faith in the gospel and carried us to God the Father. Jesus saved us to be with him and part of his family.

SAVED INTO JESUS’ FAMILY

We were not saved for isolation. We were saved into community. Through the cross of Christ, God made us family not only with himself, but also with everyone who trusts in Christ alone for eternal life. God has gathered under his roof an enormous crew of former rebels, and he has turned us into family.

While we look forward to worshiping Jesus as a family forever in his castle, our King and heavenly Father tells us not to wait until heaven to pursue each other. He tells us that now is the time to live in community together for the glory of his name, for the joy of our own souls, and for bringing more people into his kingdom (Heb. 10:24–25).

God has gathered under his roof an enormous crew of former rebels, and he has turned us into family.

Through Christian community, and specifically through the local church, we point each other to Jesus and we live on mission together as partners in the gospel (Phil. 1:5).

Here are five ways we get to experience the power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection through Christian community:

1. THE GOSPEL DEFEATS OUR SELF-PITY AND SELF-CENTEREDNESS

Sometimes, one of our subtle motives for community is to have others approve of us, fawn over us, and tell us we are valuable. Consequently, when our peers don’t give us their approval, or they don’t ascribe value to us, then we pity ourselves.

The gospel defeats self-pity, because it shows us that we don’t need to try to impress others or have them tell us we are valuable, because Jesus already gave us our value on the cross. Further, the gospel defeats self-centeredness because it show us that our salvation and our lives are not primarily about us at all, but about Jesus and the value we ascribe to him.

So when you’re tempted to stop attending church or community group because you feel that nobody likes you, consider asking yourself this question: “Instead of seeking to be served, how can I serve the Lord and others through my physical presence, through words of encouragement, through listening to others, and through showing mercy?”

2. THE GOSPEL DEFEATS OUR SHAME

Every Christian has spoken hurtful words, thought impure thoughts, and participated in sinful activities. On the cross, Jesus suffered in our place the punishment we deserve for these actions. By doing so, he wiped away our guilt and shame, and he replaced it with an eternal standing before God of innocence and righteousness.

The gospel defeats self-pity, because it shows us that we don’t need to try to impress others.

But even though God no longer looks at our past mistakes, Satan, our flesh, and the world constantly tempt us to remember our past and to cling to our shame. As a result, we often don’t feel justified to enjoy friendships, to be part of a community of people who love Jesus, or to be used by God for good purposes. The gospel combats these feelings by reminding us that we’re not justified to receive the blessings of community because of our own merits; we’re justified and liberated to enjoy the family of God because of the merits of Christ, which we can now claim as our own through faith.

So whenever you feel unworthy to enjoy community with others, remember that nobody is worthy on their own. The only reason any of us now enter and enjoy Christian community is because of Christ, and that’s why we worship him whenever we’re together.

3. THE GOSPEL DEFEATS OUR DELUSIONS OF SELF-RELIANCE

Our flesh tells us that we don’t really need help from anyone, that we shouldn’t burden others with our problems, and that we can meet our needs ourselves. The gospel tells us otherwise.

The gospel tells us we are totally incapable of saving ourselves. If God had not helped us in our helplessness, we would not know him or his salvation. And while we don’t need the church in order to be eternally saved, God gives us the church as an instrument of his grace to support us, to transform us into his image, and to humble us.

Satan, our flesh, and the world constantly tempt us to remember our past and to cling to our shame.

You need other Christians. You need the local church. God’s not in the work of building kingdoms—he’s in the work of building a kingdom. Live in light of the gospel message as you join in fellowship with other Christians who recognize their need for God and his family.

4. THE GOSPEL DEFEATS OUR CONCEIT

A conceited person believes that he is more valuable than other people. He looks down on others and separates himself from those he finds unacceptable or unworthy of honor. We all struggle with conceit on some level.

The gospel both highlights and eradicates our conceited claims. The gospel highlights our conceit by showing us that we have deemed ourselves not only better than others, but also better than God himself. Our sin reveals that we’ve considered it better to worship ourselves and our own desires rather than worship God and obey his desires for us.

You need other Christians. You need the local church.

The gospel then deals with our conceit on the cross of Christ, showing us that the punishment for our conceit was the death of Jesus. As Carl Henry said, “How on earth can anyone be arrogant when standing next to the cross?”

No Christian should be esteemed so much by themselves or by others that they are unapproachable. In God’s family, nobody is too cool, too powerful, too talented, or too refined for others. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are equally valuable in God’s eyes and worthy of community, regardless of age, gender, race, or social class (Gal. 3:28).

Through the gospel, God brings together the unlikeliest of people and makes them family.

5. THE GOSPEL GIVES US A GAME PLAN

Many of us have spent much time, energy, and resources embracing fruitless community. It’s more comfortable for us to remain superficial, talking about the weather, sports, and movies, than to step on anyone’s toes.

The gospel shatters our superficial, lukewarm, inoffensive notions of life together. Nothing about Jesus on the cross bleeds superficiality, ambiguity, or timidity. Jesus died on the cross and rose again for the glory of God by boldly winning a people for himself. This is the gospel message with which we have been entrusted. This is the gospel we preach, we teach, we memorize, we claim, and we treasure.

In God’s family, nobody is too cool, too powerful, to talented, or too refined for others.

The gospel gives us the game plan of living on mission together as we proclaim our crucified King throughout the world. And as God saves more of his children, we will gather them into our fellowship and together grow as his disciples by the power of his Holy Spirit. We will seek to love others well, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, and to grow in the grace of God. The advance of the gospel of Jesus is our game plan, our purpose, our vision, and our joy.

Thank you, King Jesus, for leaving your castle; for entering enemy territory; for showing us your Father’s glory; for building us a bridge and carrying us into your holy throne room as your blood-bought family, once and for all. Thank you for the gracious gift of redeemed community with yourself and with your church. Help us to live lives together worthy of your gospel.