Last week I hit upon the first element of Renaissance Church’s discipleship paradigm; communion with God. This week let’s dive into the second facet: developing lasting relationships in community with God’s people who are committed to your growth in Christ as you commune with God.
COMMUNITY WITH GOD’S PEOPLE
There are over 50 “one another” commands in the New Testament. What we as believers can take from this fact is that we are, surely, not meant to live our Christian lives alone. Rather it would seem that we are called to have living, breathing, brothers and sisters in Christ who come along side us in every one of these commands. The majority of them can be summed up under two umbrellas – confession and care/counsel.
Think about the process of confessing your own sin. You have to be humble to admit you are wrong. You have to be teachable to admit you need to rethink your thinking and examine your actions. You have to desire the Lord’s kindness and correction, since it is His kindness that leads to repentance. You have to recognize you can’t bear the burden of your sin on your own. We need others. I can keep going, but as you can see, by confessing our sin to one another we are opening the floodgates for dozens of one-another-commands to flow like a rolling river – correct one another, confess to one another, teach one another, bear one another’s burdens, forgive one another, submit to one another, love one another, and on and on it goes.
To be clear: It is your job to self-disclose your deepest level of temptations that will steal your joy and distract you from the hope that is yours in Christ. That takes trust in others (horizontal relationships), which gives us an adequate picture of our trust in God (vertical relationship). If we don’t trust others, it’s clear we don’t trust God, since one of His primary vehicles to comfort us and change us is through other believers.
When we sit across from someone, the Lord desires to use us as tools for His redemptive purposes in that person’s life. Our job as a community is to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ with the Gospel. This is done through lovingly asking them questions as we seek to understand their circumstances and how their head (cognition, thoughts, and beliefs), their heart (affections, desires, and emotions), and their hands (volition, actions, and reactions) are responding in those moments. We do this, not to provide good advice, but to care for them with the good news of the Gospel.
To be clear: It is not your job to go on a sin hunt. But rather, your role is to draw out of their hearts areas of unbelief, fear, shame, guilt, idolatry, pride, etc (i.e. the sin beneath the sin that they confess to you). We love, listen, understand, and then proclaim the audacious message of the gospel. Our desire is to listen well and to respond compassionately so they may be all the more convinced that “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ!” (Rom 8:1). We are acting as defense attorneys for the folks who sit across from us (Satan is the prosecuting attorney reminding us of our guilt, shame, and fear). Praise God that He is the Judge, and that by the precious blood of Christ alone we are not found guilty.
So let’s be a church that is motivated by the Gospel as we seek to disciple one another through the way we confess our unbeliefs, so that our brothers and sisters can help us believe. We, along with the father of the demon-possessed child, can say with our brothers and sisters in Christ, “I believe, oh help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24).
Now that we have laid out the first two aspects – communion with God and community with God’s people – of wholistic discipleship, next week’s third and final installment will touch upon the going and doing of God’s marching orders for His church: commissioned to God’s world.