Some of us have adopted the mentality that they do not need to be engaging with other believers for whatever reasons. It may be social status, or preferences or academics or whatever else.
“When we imagine that we, as Christians and humans, can live in total independence and self-sufficiency, we are deluding ourselves. God, from the beginning, never intended that we should go through the world “alone.” We cannot experience the power and delight of life with God fully without also being drawn into life together with our sisters and brothers in Christ. Without experiencing such life together, we will not discover how wonderful the news about Jesus is.” -Howard Macy
In the recent past, we have seen the Church lose credibility among the heathens because of a failure to express before them, the joy of Christ centred, gospel communities. Gospel relationships bring credibility to those who are outside the family of faith. What is the greatest discouragement you have come across in the Church that made you back-off? Some of us had terrible Church experiences ranging from money, deceit, sex, molestation and the list shamefully goes on. That is not what God had in mind when setting aside the Church as an instrument or agent of change. Acts 1-4 is an outstanding picture of what the Church (Gospel Community) is supposed to like. It says that they were of one mind and shared things in common (Acts 4:32-37). That means that there was a bonding among them that caused everyone to think highly of the other. In that space, there was no room for all the scandals that we hear today. And when a scandal arose (Acts 5), God dealt with it in finality in Ananias and Sapphira.
Definition of Gospel Communities:
So what are Gospel communities? Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, paints a picture of the kind of life that a believer ought to pursue. He tells us of heart attitudes and profound truths that, once fully grasped, help individual believers grow in their inner unity with the Lord, advancing the miracle of possible Gospel communities.
A Gospel Community is an environment where people have Experienced the true spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Their eyes and hearts see and know the salvation of Christ, which makes them partakers of the Mystery of the Gospel of Christ. This Gospel brings them to a place of unity in faith with the God-head and brethren, seen in the transformed lives of brothers expressing love, as they prepare themselves to fight together in the day of evil.
So what makes a gospel community a pleasant and enjoyable possibility? What are the things that characterise such a society?
We were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) before grace came to our rescue. In Adam, all died Romans 5:12. God changed the narrative by extending his mercy, making us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4). Salvation is not by works [Titus 3:5] we have done instead by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). In our dead state, God made us alive with Christ. There is nothing we can do to make Jesus save us today- that is why it beats logic to walk away from salvation. God has provided for it entirely in Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. In saving us, God created us for good works (Ephesians 2:10) and not bad ones. Why is this critical for Gospel communities?
When we are bundled up together as unregenerate men in the community, the outcome is outrageous. Men and women who follow their lusts of the flesh carry in themselves an air of evil for all their works are disobedience. Such a place does not glorify God, and people get mistreated as well. As a fellowship, our focus is to see dead men made alive in Christ Jesus. When a community of transformed people meet, they call each other up to the glories of Christ. Gospel-transformed hearts form Gospel communities. For us to enjoy the fellowship of each other without prejudice and malice, we must seek to know salvation individually! There is nothing more satisfying in communal life than having Gospel transformed minds and hearts, impacting each other and reaching out for more. Groups and clicks may seem right and at times, materially helpful. But without the work of salvation, groups have no eternal value until the members embrace salvation. Community is useful for achieving temporary, perishable deeds. Gospel communities are best for opening up many to the reality of their deprivation and need for salvation. Are you a part of a Gospel Community? As we walk in the victory of grace, salvation tops the list for living in gospel communities because the truly transformed heart will reach out to the lost with an effort of welcoming them to a functioning Gospel Community.
The fellowship of brothers is what community is all about. If salvation is the brick, fellowship is the mortar. Christ took us away from the turmoil of sin’s consequences (Galatians 3:13) and brought us shalom (Ephesians 2:14)- making us citizens (John 1:12) and not strangers. John 15 talks to us about the unity that Christ desires the saint to have with him. He calls it abiding in him. The more significant concern for Christ is the oneness that leads to fruit-bearing. Between the believer and the Lord, there is no wall of hostility. Herein lies the success of gospel communities- no dividing walls. Everyone cares for everyone. We are not lone rangers- we belong to/ for one another. We must be in a functioning Gospel Community. (Ephesians 4:15-16) Paul calls us to speak the truth in love so that we may grow up into the head. No one is supposed to be left behind. That is the attitude we see in Acts 2, where the disciples came together in fellowship and did great exploits among the people. The impact of such a functioning gospel community that is growing into the head, Christ, is such that- the whole body, joined and held together by every joint, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
There is a scarcity of such communities in our day. Selfishness and individualism have wreaked havoc and destroyed the real face of gospel communities. Men and women do not find it enough to gather around the person of Christ. We meet over coffee to discuss other people. The pomp and lustre of passing the pleasures of life have replaced genuine fellowship. It is either real estate, cars, land, soccer or movies. There is a lack of real fellowship horizontally and vertically. The thing to desire is that we get back to the place where fellowship with Christ and his people will become the fibre that holds together Gospel Communities. It is a deliberate step from each of us. This what the world is longing for in a time where things are as fake as the people are. Can you dare to be the instrument of change in our day? Could it be that God might sue you greatly to stir up the wake of a Gospel Communities where you are? D. L. Moody said;
“The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.”