Theology of Community pt.3 : Community is Centered on Jesus
This is part 2 in a series where I’m trying to work out a theology of Community. How to think biblically about something that has become increasingly foreign to the cultures most of us live in: life together. This series hits at the heart of my blog’s title “life as we” because my hope is it directly confronts the “life as me” mentality we are immersed in.
Part 3: Community is Centered on Jesus: A Gospel Community
Community, at its essence, is a group of people who share something in common right? Just the word breakdown of Community is Common Unity. And We actually build versions of it around just about anything right? Whether its a reality TV show, hiking, Southern California, or food, Just about every activity and every geographic region has a subculture, a niche or community where that group all speaks the same language and understands all the unspoken codes of the group right.
What I’m about to say may seem obvious at first, but it’s application in group life will be significant. The Church is centered around Jesus.We are FIRST a gospel community. Jesus is what we have in common. When you look at the new testament, you see a bunch of people who should never be together in community calling each other “BROTHERS” in christ. Jews & Greeks. That’s a bigger racial divide than black-white pre 1950s. This is why Paul said in Galatians 3.28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” You may have many hats you wear, many groups you are a part of, but Jesus is the primary one. Let me show you why that is so significant. Implications of being a gospel community:
- More Jesus = More unity for your group. The more a group makes Jesus their primary focal point, the more they experience the unity God has given them in the holy spirit. This is what makes the church a new and better community. It is a supernatural community. So if you want to become BFF, don’t assume you need people with the same # of kids the same age as yours who all share same interests. DIVE into the gospel together! Because there in the deep waters where life change is happening, the bonds you will form will be incredible compared to anything else you’ve experienced. God intended it to be that way. I was once in a focus group of younger pastors where a guy said when talking about community ”if the only thing you have in common is Jesus…how will they ever build community?” Everything in me wanted to go reformation on him and cry “HERESY!” but I didn’t. The point is, The gospel can’t be seen as a spiritual add on to relationships. True unity comes from the holy spirit uniting your lives together around the common belief you share in Christ.
- Gospel One Another. I believe we need to be in the habit of speaking the gospel to one another. This is Hebrews 19.25. Do not give up habit of meeting together, but instead encourage one another all the more as you see the day approaching. Encourage with what? Jesus! How often do you audibly hear the gospel message? How often do you say it? Listen, that message is life giving. Romans 8.1 – There is no condemnation for those in christ Jesus. I NEED TO HEAR THAT! and so do you! What does gospeling one another look like?
- Speak the actual gospel. Use words of Scripture. Just get in the habit of audibly saying it to one another. I promise 2 things. It will be awkward at first, and incredibly rewarding from then on.
- PRAY OVER ONE ANOTHER. We often say intercessory prayer is “believing God on behalf of others.” Crying out to God for one another, claiming the promises of Jesus we often subtly stop resting in, is a way we live out our collective reliance on Christ. Trying carrying one another’s burdens, weeping with those who weep, and rejoicing with those who rejoice, and see if you don’t start caring deeply for them.
- Talk about life change in gospel language. Use the 3 questions in disciple making to cultivate this practice.