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Community Thru A Gospel Lens

I've been thinking about the gospel a lot lately.  And, in fact, I've been doing a series on the gospel in our church.  We're talking about what's at it's core and what it requires of us.  We understand that Christ died for the forgiveness of sins (1 Peter 3:18), but we also understand that he died so that we would no longer live for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  In other words, the gospel is not just about what we are saved from.  It's just as much, if not more, about what we are saved to.

This is important to understand.

We are saved to a life that's lived beyond ourselves.  Jesus says that whoever wants to gain his life, will have to first lose it.  He says that in order to follow him we must first deny ourselves.  This is at the core of the gospel.  Yes, we are thankful for our personal benefits from Christ's death, but we also understand we are called to something greater: a life that's lived for Jesus.

Now, in John 17 Jesus prays that his people would be one just as he and the Father are one.  In John 13 he says that the way the world will recognize his people is by the way they love one another.  1 John is filled with the idea that Christians are to love one another, and if they don't they are clearly not walking in the ways of Jesus (1 John 1:7,  2:9-10, 4:20-21, 5:2).

So, if we were to view community with one another through the lens of the gospel and the heart of Jesus as discussed, what do we need to do?  If Jesus' heart is for his people to love one another then pursuing this is one of the ways in which we live for him.  In order to do this I'd suggest there are 3 things we need to do:

Watch our expectations.  We often approach church and community with unrealistic relational expectations.  The bottom line is we too often expect people to be perfect.  We know they aren't, but for some reason we expect them to be and when they're not, especially when it results in their imperfections negatively affecting us, we leave bitter and frustrated.  But one of the reasons Jesus died was because nobody is perfect and could never be.  So if we were to approach community through this lens, instead of approaching church and community with other Christians with an unrealistic ideal of them, we would approach it with a realization of our own sinful tendencies.  We wouldn't go into these relationships expecting to give grace to others as much as we would go in expecting to need to be given grace.  We would be humble, we would consider others better than ourselves, we would give honor to one another.  And, we would be forgiving, which allows for true biblical community.

Adjust why we pursue community.  Most of the time we pursue community and relationships for what we get out of it.  We want friends, influences, and potentially partners.  Actually, as American's we pursue everything as a consumer - if we're not careful.  However, if community is viewed through the lens of the gospel we don't pursue it to get community...we would pursue it to give community.  A gospel-centered life seeks to live beyond itself.  Therefore, it seeks to make sure others are getting community.  The beautiful thing is that Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than receive."  So, we have nothing to lose!  Plus, when we live in a community of people that are seeking to give community to others we end up getting community ourselves.  

Patiently work toward a biblical ideal of community.  Again, nobody is perfect and since the church is filled with imperfect people, we ought to be patient.  Why patient?  Well, because it's the first characteristic used to describe what love is (1 Corinthians 13:4).  And if Jesus' heart is for us to love one another, we must then be patient.  Those that get bitter and angry with other Christians that "don't get it," aren't being loving and unfortunately are not walking in the light of Jesus (1 John 2:10; 4:21).  

If we began to view community through a gospel lens the Church would be so much different. 

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God has prepared a place for us up there right after our journey here on earth. - BentleyForbes

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Every once in a while I have something happen that I think others might be interested in reading about. And, before it makes its way into a book, it usually ends up on a blog like this.


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