This past Sunday’s message was the third in our Mission:Possible series, and after hearing two convicting messages on the topic of worship, you might have been expecting some recuperation time as we moved into the topic of community, which may seem to be a kinder, gentler subject. If you were paying attention, I doubt that you’d describe the challenging message as an opportunity to recuperate, though.
As Pastor Jonathan delved into this critical aspect of multiplying devoted followers of Jesus, sports terminology assured that we men would get the point. When it comes to the body of Christ, we aren’t free agents, we can’t opt out, and we don’t get to determine the roster. Neither can we invest only on our own terms, which is kind of like a wide receiver refusing to block, to continue the metaphor.
Men tend to like tangible metrics of success, so evaluating our maturity in Christ can be frustratingly difficult, because spiritual growth does tend to be somewhat abstract. The Bible offers helpful spiritual assessments, though, and some of them have to do with our experience of biblical community. When we love one another (John 13:34–35), “count others more significant than [ourselves]” (Philippians 2:3), and “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24), we know that the life of Christ is being manifest in us.
Conversely, if a string of broken Christian relationships marks our lives—or if a string of no Christian relationships marks our lives (sorry, Facebook doesn’t count)—something is awry. To consider oneself spiritually mature and try to be a spiritual free agent is delusional.
God knew what He was doing when He created the body of Christ. Those who commit themselves to the glorious messiness of biblical community will find great joy amidst the challenge. And as Pastor Jonathan suggested, what a powerful witness it can be when the light of our fellowship in Christ shines in the relational darkness of this world.