The gospel reconciles us to God and to each other. Accordingly, people who have been reconciled to God will also be reconciled to each other and become a community demonstrating the reality of God’s love in the world today. It is no accident that on the night of his arrest, Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples impressing upon them the necessity of serving and loving one another, or that the topic of love features so prominently in the writings of Paul. As a community of believers, the strongest witness to the reality of the gospel before a watching world is our love. A few areas where we see the value of gospel community worked out are the following:
In our worship, we must demonstrate that we are not a gathering of people acceptable in God’s sight, but a gathering of people who know they are unacceptable and who gather to celebrate the amazing grace of a God who sent His own son to live and die in our place. We celebrate the grace of a God who did not wait or expect His people to “get it together,” but who called a people only on the basis of His sheer mercy to be His own.
In our leadership, we must seek to be and to raise up elders and deacons who lead the way as shepherds in caring for the flock, and who lead by example in demonstrating the reality of the gospel in our lives. Leaders must be those who have been changed and are being changed by the gospel; they are not example of those who are “mature” and have thus “arrived,” but instead live as examples of the transformative work of God’s grace.
In our fellowship, we must seek to foster genuine relationships, in which people can be honest about their shortcomings and struggles, challenged to continually turn to Jesus as their only hope, and find unconditional acceptance as human beings created in God’s image. (Weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn…)
Regarding children, we must seek to follow Jesus’ command to “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”