Community, cont’d.

Community, cont’d. May 16, 2011

Last week I suggested that one of the best ways to foster community in our church is to fight sin in our own lives. The connection is simple: sin, even private personal sin, destroys community.

Another way to fight for community is to develop a cross-centered approach to our relationships. Put most simply, a cross-centered mindset works like this: “The gospel tells me I’m more wicked than I ever dared believe and more loved than I ever dared hope. So how does that impact this friendship?”

Well, think about this… Genuine community demands openness: no secrets, no facade, no desire to impress. False pretenses make pretend friendships. The alternative, of course, is to be who we really are, but yikes! What if we open up and we get rejected? Ouch! What a risk!

Enter the gospel! The cross minimizes risk in a couple ways. First, since the most important Person in the universe accepts us, it matters a lot less if other people don’t. Second, the cross means that the crud people might see when we let them in isn’t our permanent crud. We’re actually a guest on God’s “Complete Makeover: Soul Edition.” People are a lot more forgiving when they realize there’s a transformation going on, like when they see those “Please Excuse Our Mess” signs at the mall when a store is being remodeled.

One of the clearest examples of people living in really close community, sharing their stuff, and enjoying intimate relationships is the Jerusalem church. “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32) Where did that kind of community come from? The very next verse says, “And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” I take that to mean, among other things, that this was a group profoundly centered on the gospel. The gospel is the garden where real community grows.

Want to experience another practical benefit of the cross? Get real.