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Gospel-shaped Community

 

Whether we admit or not, we are creatures who long for community. We want to both know and be known, and we want to be accepted once we truly are known. One of the difficulties of this, of course, is that if we are honest there are things about ourselves that we fear will be the basis of others' rejection of us. We fear they will make fun of us if they knew "this" or "that" or not like us if they realize we aren't who we often make ourselves out to be. On the other hand, perhaps you often don't associate with other people because they are difficult or not quite to your liking.

As much as we want and seek to create community, we have to admit that we often want community that is basically centered around our likings and preferences. A gospel-shaped community is something altogether different. The gospel is the good news of what God has done in Jesus to rescue people who have rebelled against him. Amazingly, God creates a people who are able to be honest about who we really are because in Jesus, God has loved us and accepted us beyond anything we could ever have thought to ask. This creates a new kind of community in which people have dealt honestly with who we are before God and are now free to pour themselves out for others. It's only when we understand and have been loved beyond our deserving that we are freed to love others in honest and sacrificial ways as well. This is gospel-shaped community, and its power lies in the reality that each of its members have received unfathomable grace from God.

This is the kind of community which should mark the church. Remarkably, in God's plan, he purposed to save individuals, but he purposed to save individuals into the new community that he founded with the blood of Jesus. In this community, there is freedom to be honest and freedom to struggle. There is freedom to serve and freedom to live in the joy for which we were made. This is gospel-shaped community, and this is the community for which each of us was made.

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