Gospel in Community
September 3, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Paul’s letter to the church at Rome arguably is the richest exposition in the Bible of God’s astonishing grace extended to sinful humans through Jesus Christ. In this letter we learn of the depth of sinful depravity that has affected every human being, the free gift of justification before God received by faith alone, the sufficiency of God’s grace to not only cover our sin but also to raise us to new life in Christ, and the eternal promise of God to bring all those who are justified to glorification in his presence. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!”
If you have taken the time to read or study Romans, you know there is a significant shift of focus in chapter 12. Paul moves from unpacking the rich reality of grace in our relationship with God and the implications for ethnic Jews to focusing on how the gospel transforms personal and interpersonal morals. In fact, most of his “application” of the gospel is focused on this later piece, relationships with one another in the church. Hear some of Paul’s heart in Romans 12:
“We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (vs. 5).
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (vs. 6).
“Love one another with brotherly affection” (vs. 10).
“Outdo one another in showing honor” (vs. 10).
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (vs. 13).
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (vs. 15).
“Live in harmony with one another” (vs. 16).
“So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (vs. 18).
The work of Christ, which reconciles us to God the Father, also begins to transform us into a new people, like a good infection. The gospel never is to be “experienced” only as an individual. In the later chapters of Romans, Paul wants the church to understand the full implication of the gospel. It changes how we live together as a church.
At Oak Hills we talk about our longing to know the astonishing grace of God. Deeply entwined with this longing is to grow in community with one another in ways that reflect the gospel. The gospel makes us “members one of another.” Therefore we aim to use our gifts to serve one another, love one another, show honor to one another, show hospitality to one another, rejoice with one another, weep with one another, be at peace with one another, etc. To know God’s grace in the gospel is to do life with one another according to that grace.
Life Groups, regular, regional gatherings in the homes of our members, are an excellent avenue to fulfill this vision of the gospel. We have not always been perfect in our “execution” of Life Groups, but we are committed to continue to strive for this “gospel community.” The basic vision of our Life Groups at Oak Hills is to fulfill the practical implications of the gospel that are spelled out in Romans 12. Love. Honor. Hospitality. Rejoicing and Weeping. Peace. With one another.
I believe it is valuable for everyone at Oak Hills to plug into a Life Group. There will be three Life Groups this Fall, each headed up by one of our elders. We want to do life with you and “know” God’s grace more and more. Plan to join a Life Group.