You need biblical community

by Dr. Jack Graham

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

I heard about a man who wanted to sing in the choir of a certain church. So he went in to meet with the pastor, who asked him, “Are you a member of this church?”

The man said, “No, I’m not a member of the church.”

The pastor said, “Well, are you a member of any church?”

And the man replied, “No, I’m not a member of any church. But I am a member of God’s invisible universal Church.”

So the pastor quipped back, “Well, why don’t you sing in the invisible universal choir then?!”

When we think about church, there are two separate and equally important aspects of church. There is the invisible universal Church to which all believers in Christ belong. And there is also the local church, the visible representation of that invisible reality.

Now yes, it’s possible to be a part of the universal Church without belonging to a local church. But as you see in today’s passage, assembling together is a mandate from the Scriptures that we’re to take seriously!

So if you’re not involved in a local church where you’re meeting with others and growing together, find one and get plugged in. You’ll not only be fulfilling the biblical mandate to assemble together, but you’ll build lasting friendships that will lift you up!

THE BIBLE IS CLEAR THAT BELIEVERS ARE TO MEET TOGETHER. SO IF YOU AREN’T YET, GET CONNECTED WITH A LOCAL CHURCH AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS LIKE YOU!

The Narcissism of ‘Solitary Religion’

by  Also read and to the 55 Comments

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In an age of self-centered everything, it is not surprising that a lot of self-centered religion, and in particular self-centered Christianity has emerged. Pastors seeking to minister to people’s felt needs, because of course they are the center of their own universe, rather than God being the center, has led to all sorts of slogans like ‘I’m spiritual not religious’ which translates as— I don’t attend religious services, I can be spiritual all by myself. C.K. Barrett and John Wesley in a powerful sermon on Ephes. 3 have something to say to such folks….

The rest is at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2016/12/03/the-narcissism-of-solitary-religion/

Community – not just an add-on to the “church”

Community is not a peripheral ministry. Our communities should be the most palpable expression of the gospel within the church. As culture reflects the values of its citizens,

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 45). Kindle Edition.

If then we agree that community is essential for disciples of Jesus and that it is at the center of God’s purpose, then we must expect implications for the church in form and function.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 46). Kindle Edition.

If we want to truly make disciples that advance the gospel, we must not only see the importance of community, we must understand it to be essential to the church.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 47). Kindle Edition.

Brad states:

Nation-wide, only one-quarter of young persons, eighteen to twenty-three years of age, who identify as evangelical Christians.

Also,

. . . community groups are great barometers of how well the church understands the gospel.

 

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 93). Kindle Edition.

Community – some raw indictments

Brad speaks plainly about the current status of “community” in most churches.

Sadly, community within the church today is hemorrhaging.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 18). Kindle Edition.

We appear to be breathing as we gather for worship services and run our programs, but oftentimes we are merely surviving rather than living life abundantly. Jesus tells us that we must lose our lives if we want to save them. Life should be defined as the passionate pursuit of God. It should be marked by a hatred of sin in the believer’s life and an unquenchable desire for the fame of Jesus, taking every opportunity to share the gospel with a fallen world. If that is life, how are your vital signs? Can you find a pulse in the community of your church?

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 20). Kindle Edition.

… the mission is to glorify God by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus for the sake of gathering God’s people to him, and to teach and grow them in their knowledge and love of Christ.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 22). Kindle Edition.

Ironically, for “a holy nation, a people,” we are comically pathetic at community.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 23). Kindle Edition.

Community – do we have anything exciting happening?

When I or others get excited about Jesus, we don’t have to be reminded to read the Word, sing, praise, worship and share. It just happens. Maybe that is why the early church was so successful — they were experiencing a living, interacting, powerful savior.

When we have a need to cajole someone to share, pray, or show some excitement about their walk with God, we can suspect that maybe nothing “real” is going on. Brad House speaks of that:

If you want to inspire people to the mission of God, you must lift up the Son. When we grasp the glory of Jesus, it becomes the sustaining inspiration that transforms life. Isaiah was inspired by seeing Jesus in the temple. Peter was inspired by seeing Jesus after his resurrection. Paul was inspired when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. These men were changed when they saw the glory of Jesus. His mission became their mission. His glory was enough to change everything. Our apathy toward the mission of God is not because of a lack of knowing what to do. It is our blindness to his glory and grace that keeps us satisfied with nominal Christianity. If you want to light a fire under your church for the mission, don’t simply trot out your goals; lift up Jesus.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 75). Kindle Edition.

Our community is to reflect God

~ Brad House

We are the body of Christ created in the image of God, who exists in community. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have eternally existed in relationship with one another as one God in three persons. God is a relational being who created us as relational beings so that we could image him. As a community, this means that we are to reflect the goodness of God and preach the gospel through our lives together. This means loving one another, forgiving one another as Christ forgave us, calling one another to confession and repentance for the purpose of reconciliation, and challenging one another to lives that glorify God.

Community – a baramoter

… community groups are great barometers of how well the church understands the gospel.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 93). K

Community – actually visible to outsiders?

It is important to note that Peter describes a community whose good deeds are seen by nonbelievers. We must be a community that is seen loving one another and our neighbors. Don’t miss this point. If no one ever catches us being Christians because we are holed up behind drawn curtains, then we are not a missional community. So we see in this description of a Christian community that our corporate identity is in Jesus, and out of that comes worship, community, and mission, culminating in the glorification of God. This is our picture of a healthy community group. In sum, the purpose of community is to make and mature disciples of Jesus; everything else is the product of that purpose.

Key to being this type of community is to redefine community groups as a lifestyle rather than an event.

~ House, Brad,  Community (p. 96)

Brothers and Sisters, We Must Recover Friendship

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-reviews-befriend

The church, for the believer, is now our “first family.”

~ The Emotionally Healthy Church, Scazzero

The church, for the believer, is now our “first family.” In fact, family is the most significant metaphor used in Scripture to describe the church. Anderson and Guernsey say it best:

The church is the new family of God …Through spiritual rebirth, we each become brother and sister of Jesus Christ through adoption into the family of God. consequently we are brother and sister to each other. Husbands and wives are first of all brothers and sister in Jesus Christ before they are husband and wife. Sons and daughters are also brother and sister to their father and mother before they are sons and daughters. p.1o1

The critical factor that most significantly determines my new identity as a Christian is not the blood of your biological family but the blood of Jesus. We are given a new name (Christian), a new inheritance (freedom, glory, hope, resources a hundredfold), and a new power (the Holy Spirit)to live in this new life. We become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1.4), able to enjoy the absolute security and stability, freedom, intimacy, and confidence in prayer (Luke 11.5-13) of children in God’s family. There exists a new dynamic in the life inside me, the life of Jesus.

Without hesitation, Jesus called men and women to himself over their biological families, saying that “anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worth of me” (Matt. 10.37).

The New Testament world is unable to imagine living out healthy family life apart from the context of a healthy church life. The local church becomes the place where I am, in a very real sense, reparented. p. 102

Discipleship, then, must include honest reflection on the positive and negative impact of our family origin as well as other major influences in our lives. This is hard work. Following Jesus is a process that takes time. But the extent to which we can go back and understand how it has shaped us will determine, to a large degree, our level of awareness and our ability to break destructive patterns.

God’s invitation is to welcome him into those areas so we might break free to live life as joyfully and freely as he intends. p.102-3