Saturday, August 17, 2013

freedom in Christ; joy in community

Community. So many things come to mind when I hear or see this word. Sometimes I ache at the thought of knowing so many people lack community. Others choose not to engage in a community of people. I also experience great joy when I see or hear this word. I begin to think of all the times God has been so faithful to provide me with community in so many different seasons of my life. I am reminded that without the death and resurrection of Jesus, community is not possible. I bask in the truth that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection he has set us free for freedom’s sake (Gal 5:1). 

Our church had our regional Gospel Community meals this past week. We gather all throughout the city in different locations to meet with people from our church body. It allows for those interested in joining a Gospel Community (I will now refer to this as GC) to meet some of the leaders. My husband and I are leading our GC this year. We are pretty excited. Anyway, this meal provided an opportunity for us to meet some people who may be interested in joining our group. I realized I am slowly beginning to become more introverted, so events like this make me nervous. To be completely honest, there were a few awkward moments. Realizing the interests of us may not be the interests of another and my heart begins to close off and self-righteousness kicks in. (I suck, okay. I know this.) Anyway, this meal was a reminder of our need for community. I don’t say this to mean, “Our need to have friends and get together once a week and eat snacks and talk briefly about Jesus and laugh a funny jokes.” Yes, that is a plus. But when I think about community and what the bible says about community is MUCH deeper than that. Community exists to first and foremost worship a Holy God and together proclaim the good news of Jesus. You may be thinking, “Oh, but I can do that on my own, in my own time, without taking time out of my BUSY (cause your time is more important that everyone else’s right?) week to get together with a bunch of people that I actually don’t feel comfortable sharing my junk.” But I believe because of this mindset, that’s one of the very reasons we need community. We need to make time in our week to get together with people we love and some people we may not click with to be reminded of the good news that Jesus lived a life we couldn’t and died a death we deserved to rescue us from that very junk we don’t want to talk about. 

“But what if they think I’m weird?” “I couldn’t possible let anyone know that about me.” “I confess my sins to God all of the time and I still keep falling into the same junk so I don’t think I could let anyone know that.” Do you tell these things to yourself? I mean honestly I do at times. So often I hide my fears, my self-righteousness because I think I can handle it on my own. (HA!) We can’t handle these things on our own and thats so FREEING! We don’t have to. I am thankful for the truth in James, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Whaaat? If I tell others about my sin, I will be healed? Yes. Now, I don’t know what that always looks like, but we have the freedom to confess our sins to one another because of the gospel of Jesus. Because of the truth that what Christ accomplished on the cross, our sins are forgiven. So we are free to confess our junk to one another. We are free from people judging us (even if they do because people suck; because we are humans in need of a Savior all of the time). But by confessing our junk to others, people can pray for us. People can intercede to our Holy God about the pain we are experiencing or the anxiousness that has completely consumed our souls due to a job situation or an unhealthy relationship or whatever. There really is freedom in being honest with people about this stuff.

Anyway, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore; and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” ( Galatians 5:1). I love this verse. I tend to love it more when shared in community with other people. There is opportunity to remind one another of this truth when we forget it. We all have those days we are beating ourself up over and over again and community allows us to remind one another of our freedom in Christ. 

I don’t know what your community looks like. You may fall into that category of not really having community or you’re choosing to hide and not be a part of a community. I’ve been there. It sucks. It feels like you’re trapped and you aren’t experiencing any freedom. The good news is that Jesus died for even that. He wants us to be in community with one another to confess our sin, to worship God and to experience freedom in Him. Community is sustained by the Gospel. We need the Word of God to give us life as we continue to experience the freedom we have in Christ together.

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