My experience of church is extending well beyond anything I have previously experienced in 28 years as a disciple of Jesus. What’s amazing is that this is not just my experience; it is shared by our church, by my City Group, by our city. And, no doubt, by some of you.
Too Mature for Community?
The level of authentic confession of sin, persistent belief in the gospel, love for one another, and sharing of life and mission is remarkable. This is not naive community; it is redemptive community, a community of grace that holds in common brokenness and belief, failure and success, repentance and faith. As one of our people shared during our gathering on Sunday, “You are never too spiritually mature for community.”
Indeed, community should be common fare in the church, and I’m not talking about “fellowship”, just hanging out or feeling like you have friends. If we are not careful, our longing for and experience of community can subtly displace the gospel. Biblical community is much, much more than this. Biblical community is significant, not because it makes you feel significant but because it recognizes that Jesus is our common source of significance. The gospel, not people, becomes the means to the end of our identity. Our sense of acceptance flows from our relationship with Christ, which in turn frees us to love and serve one another, not secretly judge, demand or ostracize. We become a one anothering community, freed by the gospel, to love and serve each other. We are equally never too spiritually mature for the gospel.
Making the Gospel Central, Really
As Graham Beynon puts it: “We are to be teaching each other the gospel, to be correcting each other about the gospel with all wisdom, to be singing about the gospel with gratitude and so letting it dwell richly among us. When we come to church on a Sunday, or to our small group meeting during the week, we should come saying to ourselves, ‘I hope I will be reminded of the gospel in this meeting. I hope I will be taught about it and corrected in my understanding of it. I hope we will sing about it.” ~ God’s New Community, 119.
Does your church, your community, your small group, your missional community gather in anticipation of being reminded of the gospel, corrected in the gospel, motivated by the gospel, to sing of the gospel? If not, what can you do to reshape community expectations around the gospel, not community? Have you become too mature for community or too community centered for the gospel? Consider how to make the gospel central and community will follow.