Gospel + Community
If there has ever been a time where our world feels needy, this might be it. People need help with school decisions. They need help navigating COVID-19. Some people need help navigating relationships with their families. We all could use an extra stimulus check for sure. But there is one thing that we need more than anything.
We desperately need Gospel + Community.
You might say "I think you mean, two things. You mean that we need to know the good news about Jesus Christ AND we need to be a part of a church." This is partially true. However, God desires that these two lifelines be married so closely together in your life that it's hard to see where gospel and community separate.
It's like being in the ICU and your doctor asking you, do you want a ventilator or an IV of fluids. If you were like me, you would ask "Do I have to choose? Can I please have both?" We daily and desperately need Gospel + Community.
The truth is that you can know the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet, be isolated from gospel community. And your heart will suffer. Your life will struggle. You will miss out on all of God's best for you. I always tell people that the Christian life lived outside of the church is not just hard, it is impossible.
Yet, it's also true that you can be a part of a church that is not rooted in the gospel. The church might talk about Jesus every now and then, but deep down it's about moralism. Or it's about being nice people or a political party or it's just a friendly social gathering. Lose the gospel and you lose what is life-giving about a church. It's like cutting off the water and electricity to a house. You can stay for a little while but soon you will have to leave.
There are so many reasons that you and I need Gospel + Community:
1. We Forget
The word remember is repeated over 160 times in the Bible. It's not by accident because the Lord knows we are forgetful. We wake up daily forgetting the gospel. Psalm 130:2-3, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases."
Learning the gospel is like learning a new language. You must immerse yourself in your new language or you will forget it. You must speak it daily or you will return to what's most comfortable and easy. Gospel Community is where we immerse ourselves and rehearse constantly this new language called "gospel" together in community.
2. We Doubt
One of Jesus' disciples, Thomas, was not convinced that Jesus really rose from the dead. He knew Jesus well. He spent years with a front-row seat to his deity. He wasn't confused about whether or not Jesus really died on the cross. It was the resurrection that was hard to wrap his mind around. He had to see it with his own eyes and feel it with his hands.
There are days where the gospel seems too big to believe for us. Where it seems too good to be true for sinners like us. Gospel Community is the place where we cling to Christ together. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says beautifully, "The Christ in their own hearts is weaker than the Christ in the word of other Christians. Their own hearts are uncertain; those of their brothers and sisters are sure." We need Gospel + Community for our weak hearts.
3. We Look Elsewhere
The truth of the gospel is Jesus > ______. It doesn't matter what's in the blank. Jesus is better than that sin or idol. He is the only perfect sacrifice that could die for your sins. He is the only resurrected King to conquer sin and death. He is the most glorious treasure in the universe that should ever capture your mind's attention and heart's affection.
The struggle is that every time we sin, we believe that sin is better. When we worship an idol, we are saying that it is more worthy than Jesus Christ. Gospel Community is where we feel the divine jealousy within us for one another like the apostle Paul. Jealous that our thoughts will not be "led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3) Gospel Community is the place where the song on repeat is "Brother, Jesus is better!" and "Sister, Christ is enough for you!"
4. We Hide
The gospel of John says: "The light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil" (John 3:19). This is who we are by nature. Like our great, great, great (100x) grandparents Adam and Eve, when we rebel against the Lord we try to cover ourselves and hide in the bushes. Gospel Community makes us walk in the light of Christ with one another. A place where we can be fully known and reminded of the freedom and forgiveness we have in Jesus.
This is why we have Community Groups at Christ Fellowship Church. We are a people who desperately need Jesus and we need one another to constantly help turn our gaze back to Him!
This is why I am excited that God in his providence has our groups meeting in smaller groups this semester. Groups where we can be honest with one another. Where we don't have to hide anymore. Where we come hopeless and weak, week after week, to be reminded of the good news of Jesus!