On Sunday we had a great conversation about how community shapes a person.
Community, fellowship specifically (more on that in a bit), is a means of grace. It is something designed and given by God to make us more like Jesus - if we will lean into it. It's not automatic but operates through the power of the Holy Spirit by faith. There is no formation without repetition, which is why it is so important to devote yourself to community - that is not something someone can do for you.
Phil 1: 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
In these few verses, at least three things can be seen that unites a community - the gospel of Christ, partnership (fellowship) in the gospel - let's call that mission - and the future that we are moving toward (the day of Christ Jesus).
Christ. Mission. Future.
Our prejudices can divide us. Our Christ unites us.
We all have lenses through which we see each other. When we begin to follow Jesus, we are adopted into a new family, with its own unique culture. There is a whole lot of unlearning to be done, and a new way to live - in kingdom culture. In kingdom culture, there is no room for prejudice.
Our preferences can divide us. Our mission unites us.
The bigger the mission, the easier it is to set aside our preferences. A true community, or fellowship, is being on a mission together. It's playing the game, not just watching the game. It's a group of people with a shared purpose, facing life and death situations, battling the very presence of evil itself. It's why Tolkien wrote about the Fellowship of the Ring.
Our pasts can divide us. Our future unites us.
Our pasts are what got us here, but it is a common future that unites us. We grew up in different places, all across the socio-economic spectrum. Yet, in Christ, we are all moving toward a hope and a future, when Jesus comes back to set everything right.
All of this to say - you were created for covenant community, and it needs to be guarded so that in it you thrive
Means of grace
They are enacted signs pointing to realities beyond themselves
Inauguration and renewal'