Monday, February 8, 2016

What Every Christian Home Needs...

Every Christian home needs "Gospel Community".

The Bible is exceedingly clear about our need for significant relationships. In fact, the first thing that Genesis records after creation that is not good is Adam being alone (Genesis 2:18). Therefore, God made him a companion to enjoy life, to grow in fellowship with each other, and to thrive in relationship with Himself.

Unfortunately, sin entered the world and quickly eroded these relationships. What was designed to be easy, became much more difficult. Within our core, we long for significant relationships that are transparent and free from shame. We desire to be with people who know us, love us, and accept us in spite of our sin, failures, and shortcomings. This is the definition of true friendship. Yet, in an attempt to protect ourselves, we put up walls and barriers to keep people from knowing who we really are. Thus, people become friends with the "projected image" of ourselves, not the "real us".

Scripture declares Christians will all grow into the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18), and the gospel work which He began in us will come to completion (Philippians 1:6). This process of growth and transformation does not happen on our own. It happens in community. It happens in a community rooted in the Gospel where grace and truth are overflowing (see these characteristics of Jesus in John 1:14).

As a Christian, my identity is not rooted in me - my efforts, my accomplishments, my ambitions, my job, my family, my bank account, my stuff, my education, or anything else. Thank God, my identity isn't defined by my sin or failures either. Every Christian is free from all that! Instead, it is solely rooted in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-28). We have a new identity that rests in the grace and work of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new identity when coupled with other Christians creates a beautiful and awesome thing: Gospel Community.

Qualities of Gospel Community
There are amazing qualities of this Gospel Community described in Ephesians 4:1-6. The Apostle Paul calls the church to be humble (esteem others better than yourself while being concerned for their welfare), gentle (even tempered and self-controlled particularly in regards to the revelation of another believer's sin), patient (endure through pain and unhappiness for the benefit of others), and to bear with one another in love (a willing and intentional forfeiture of rights or privileges for the sake of someone else). The goal of these qualities within Gospel Community is to maintain unity. These should be the mark of the Church. These describe God's design for us.

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine what it would be like if these were the qualities of every church? Too often though, this is not the reality of the church. Therefore, we keep the people we need most (other Christians) at arms length in order to protect our pride and ego. The dangers of this self-induced isolation is that we begin to believe things that aren't true by hardening our hearts to sin's deceit (Jeremiah 17:9, Hebrews 3:12-13). I believe this isolation from Gospel Community is exactly what the Enemy wants for us. He wants believers to live in isolation, fear, and busyness in order to protect our pride and agendas. In this, the Enemy accomplished his purpose of of destruction within our homes (John 10:10a).

Can you imagine the opportunities for those who embrace Gospel Community? Unbelievable freedom and joy can come from being fully known and fully loved! This is the glory of the Good News of Jesus Christ: He already fully knows us and has already responded in love (John 3:16-17). As Christians, we are to represent Him to others - in grace and truth.

Further Resources:
Verge Network: Gospel Communities
Gospel Coalition: Gospel Community

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