In the church we often talk about being in community with one another. For our young adult ministry the sole reason for this is to preach the gospel to one another and then others outside of our community. Too many times however the church build “community” for the sake of self or to meet a social need. This is where the church becomes a community center and not in fact a Christian church. We cling to people who resemble us and pursue what we have in common other than Jesus (keep in mind I lead such an “affinity” ministry.)
When we neglect the family we have in Christ, we neglect Christ. We lose the gospel in the midst of our human systems of dividing the larger whole. There is a better way. But before we have a system, we need a savior. And we need a message that defines community for us.
Dan Hallock has written a post on how the gospel shapes and is realized in community. Once he gives us the foundational truth that when we are united with Christ we are saved into a family, he gives five ways we can witness the power of the gospel living life with other believers. Below is the list and a small taste of his explanation.
1. The gospel defeats our self-pity and self-centeredness
“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.”
2. The gospel defeats our shame
“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
This is a big one for us in the church…
“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…”
4. The gospel defeats our conceit
“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).”
5. The gospel gives us a game plan
“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.”
So how about it? Should we shift our “community” to be defined, informed and planned by the gospel? It has worked for a couple of millennia so it is a good model…
The whole post is worth your time. It is on the Resurgence blog here.