Jun28SunJune 28, 2015
I know for myself that I can easily become an island to myself and internalize a lot of the battles that I fight with on a day to day basis. It is so easy to isolate and withdraw in our self- consuming world to our own detriment. As I listened today for the Lord to speak to me I sensed Him telling me to stay far from the evil one’s traps, don’t listen to his voice, his lies, his justification. Let truth be the belt that secures you. So with that in mind I want to focus on developing a theology of community for our own health and the strength of those who call themselves Jesus followers. We were never meant to do the Christian life ALONE! This is absolutely key for us to continue in a life of transformation and breakthough.
Tim Keller in ‘Gospel In Life’ identifies three areas for what a Christian community is created to be and have shaped my understanding of community.
- The people of God – those who are created by faith through the Father
In Exodus 6:6,7 “Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. 7 I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God.
Check out the process for the children of Israel, it first begins with God rescuing them from slavery. Even here in the OT, it is all about God and not their own merit. He then redeems them, He purchased them outright for His very own self and places His mark on them. He claims them and calls them His people! What made them ‘a people’ was a complete act of God’s power and His grace. This reality is the same for us today as 1 Peter 2:9,10 tells us that we “are a people belonging to God”. This truth that Peter is sharing is the same concept, same metaphor of the children of the exodus. Our faith was meant to be so much more than just a personal gospel, a personal salvation. We were saved and brought into community and our common ground is through our repentance from sin, our slavery and believed the truth that Jesus has freed us and redeemed us to be His people!
We were always meant to identify ourselves as a “people belonging to God”. We have been brought into a new relationship with other Jesus followers, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Having just celebrated Father’s Day recently was a reminder of the role that we as Dad’s play in creating the environment for faith to grow in our children. Jim Gordon, the pastor at Elora Road did an excellent job along with his son Jeremy on unpacking the
- power of permission -that a Father plays in admitting when he is wrong with his children
- power of presence- and the focus that a Father plays in being there for his children and being the CEO – chief encouragement officer!
- power of pointing – the importance of pointing our children to Jesus. I know I have often started but not followed through with my kids and confessed that to them. We need to be consistent and that means strength from God as well as being intentional! One of the best ways that we point our children to Jesus is by loving our wife well!
- power of promise- this really helps me with the last point and that is that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9,10
In the same way the church needs spiritual fathers and mothers as Titus 2 lies out.
2.The body of Christ – those who deliberately share and do life together.
As it relates to the body of Christ, we see in God’s Word the use of ‘family’ and ‘household’ to describe the importance of eating, living and working together. We are not just a sum total or people who gather as is often the question when people ask about church….”how many people attend on a given Sunday?”. Rather, we play the part that God has designed us for and are deeply connected to the rest. A huge part that the body plays is calling out of people that which God has created them to be. We can only do that up close as we affirm one another’s strengths and gifts as we see in the redemptive gifts of Romans 12:3-8 that tells us to confirm the gifts of one another and the ultimate goal is to ‘honor one another’. Romans 12:10
My home church, Elora Road Christian Fellowship, for 48 years, has created such a strong sense of community by using their grounds for a week of camp meetings. I am so looking forward to being on site this year and can truly say that it is such a bonding and strengthening time for those attending. There is such a profound understanding and opportunity to experience being the ‘people of God’ . The close proximity that we have also creates the intimacy for honest and real conversations and late night campfires to speak life and encourage one another! It is awesome!!
We need to be about hospitality and inviting each other into our homes, our families, having others over for a meal. A family shares all of life together, eating, living and working together.
3. The fellowship of the Spirit – those who are a model of his preferred future.
We’ve talked about the role of the Father and Son in community and we definitely wouldn’t be complete about the role the Holy Spirit plays. A Spirit-filled community is an alternative society that models distinct ways to do everything in life. Only though the influence of the Spirit, do we have any hope to a city on a hill whose visible behavior shines and displays the glory of God. Matthew 5:14
2 Corinthians 3:17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
A Spirit-filled community understands the power of breakthrough through praying in the Spirit. Romans 8:26. We often don’t know how to pray and the Spirit intercedes for us.
I have discovered that praying in the Spirit as Paul speaks of 1 Corinthians 14 is a powerful exercise that leads to breakthrough!
A picture of a recent time of pray at Church at the Manor demonstrates the beauty and power of community as our speaker, a ministry team member and one of our attendees all laid hands together in prayer on a man who desperately was seeking freedom from addiction. We are a royal priesthood of people who advocate and stand in the gap on behalf of others.
Also, just recently we went to a wedding in London and we were so close to Teen Challenge to visit Dan. However, it was late on the way back, my kids had exams and work. One of them had to wake up at 5:30am the next morning. We just knew we needed to stop and we did. As it turned out Dan was ready to quit the program that day and the worker there told us we were a godsend. It meant so much to Dan that we came and said hi and it really boosted his spirits. He felt that our visit was God telling him how much He loved him. A simple visit on our part but when Holy Spirit leads us, we can model His love!!
It has been said that “we will not know God, change deeply, nor win the world apart from community!”