This Sunday we continued our series: How The Then Shall We Live and we focused on how the gospel should impact our community. Romans 1:16 says the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The gospel is the power of God to both make and mature disciples and the context where that happens best is in community. In our sermon we looked at creation and the fall in Genesis 1-3 and saw that God exists in community, we were created to exist in community, sin shatters community and that it is the gospel that recreates community. Paul argues in the Romans 1:16 that both Jews and Gentiles are saved when they believe in the gospel. People avoid people who are different than they are, who are not like them but the gospel gives us a reason to draw near to them. D.A Carson says “ The church is...made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything else of that sort. Christians come together...because they have all been saved by Jesus Christ…They are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.” While Romans clearly shows that the scope of the gospel is the obedience of all nations (1:5) he paints a clear picture of what that looks like in the church in Rome in Chapter 16. The church in Rome was heterogeneous but united in Christ. We pray that our church would turn out to be like this where our tables would be diversified with people from different backgrounds.
Community is something to fight for because it is not only the call of Christ fo everyone who believes but where he intends to mature us so that we can image his glory through our unity. As made clear in Romans 16 community is the place Christ is exalted and lines drawn by our societies to separate people are obliterated. It is in the context of community that human dignity is restored, people serve one another, gospel fluency is achieved we can enjoy meaningful kingdom work.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer warns both those who can not be alone and those who love to be alone saying “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. ‘The challenge of death comes to us all, and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone. . . . I will not be with you then, nor you with me’ (Luther). But the reverse is also true: Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you. ‘If I die, then I am not alone in death; if I suffer they [the fellowship] suffer with. me’ (Luther). We recognize, then, that only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship. Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship. It is not as though the one preceded the other; both begin at the same time, namely, with the call of Jesus Christ.”
PRAYER: Father, help us see our church as a family that’s been formed by faith in Jesus and as one of the primary ways you mature us as disciples. And God, give us the grace to walk the difficult road toward being a family that reflects your glory.
5 THINGS I SAW, FELT AND HEARD THIS PAST SUNDAY
- by Pastor Raphael
I believe this sermon series: How Then Shall We Live is very pivotal for our church body. Yesterday as we explored Romans 16 I found my heart filled with thankfulness because I already see God bringing a diverse group of people at City Church. I also found myself filled with pleadings in prayer that God would deepen our love for one another.
As we sang yesterday, I realized It has been a couple of weeks since I came back from Africa and I am still processing a lot of things that happened and grieving. My heart was filled with gratefulness for you City Church because even though I am the Lead Pastor, I genuinely feel loved, cared for and prayed for. I can honestly say that I am not only a leader in our church but part of community life.
I am also grateful for the many people that serve to make Sunday morning possible. I can indeed look at our church and see people that Romans 16 that work hard for us.
I had a conversation with a first-time guest yesterday who believed with all his heart that God led him to City Church and he was ministered to not only by the songs and the sermon but our hospitality. People engaged him from the moment he walked in until he left. City Church I am both proud and grateful for that you are making Romans 15:7 a tangible reality. “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7, ESV)
We had a great turn out at the Potluck. As I looked all across the room, I saw the beautiful community God is forming us into. Thank you all who served.