pew sitters part deux

February 19, 2016

growth marks

In North American culture, individualism and independence reign. However, the New Testament describes Christian community as interdependent. Interdependence involves mutual encouragement and intimacy.

 

Interdependent Christian community also includes a commitment to holiness. Though our culture affirms some of the positive benefits of community, it often balks at the uniquely Christian commitment to holiness in community. It sees as “cultish” communities that want members to be mutually accountable to each other for some definite ethical standard.

 

It’s no surprise, then, that many churches seem to endorse a very private pursuit of holiness.Yet the New Testament presents a community in which the members have a mutual responsibility to one another in their pursuit of holiness. The members of local churches need to help each other grow in godliness.

When asked, “Do you want to live more and more like Jesus every day?” most Christians would say “yes.” But if believers cognitively assent to a desire to grow in Christlikeness, why do so many struggle to see such growth in day-to-day living? What is missing?

 

In many cases, believers who struggle to grow have a healthy dose of biblical input from over four dozen Sunday sermons annually, supplemented by Christian radio, Sunday school classes, or Wednesday night church services. But are our lives really changed simply by exposing our intellects to more information?

 

We have been trained to share the Christian message effectively with others, taught how to develop a regular prayer life, and equipped to minister to those in need. We understand that many Christian activities must occur in a corporate, or group, setting. So why do we seldom understand our growth toward Christlikeness, our sanctification, as a communal endeavor? This study will not simply expose you to principles that help you better understand what moral wholeness, or integrity, looks like in the Christian life; it will also encourage you to engage in the process of growth with others.

 

“It must be remembered, first of all, that we are not sanctified merely as individuals but as members of the body of Christ… . We must therefore live in such a way as to advance and enrich the sanctification of the fellow believers whom our lives touch.”     ––Anthony A. Hoekema, Saved by Grace

 

Believers often mistakenly assume that growing in holiness is simply a matter of either exerting personal willpower or passively expecting God to act. But even those who understand the need for both exerting one’s will and developing dependence on Christ still need the encouraging support of a community of other Christians––at least that is what Jesus and His apostles had in mind.

 

Paul consistently described a corporate dynamic of growth (Romans 15:14; 2 Corinthians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11,14; 2 Thessalonians 3:11-15; Titus 1:9; 2:4,15). Paul never imagined sanctification of isolated individuals but always of individuals within the context of an intimate community.

 

For a powerful example of the kind of community believers ought to experience, consider one of Jesus’ final prayers on earth. In John 17:2023, Jesus says He desires believers to have the same intimacy with one another as He and the Father share. One significant reason for that level of intimacy is the encouragement it provides for growth. In that kind of supporting—and at times correcting—community, believers help each other so that their active living is saturated with the principles of Christian integrity.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Prayer for Janice, she just lost her job and desperately needs a new one.

Pray for Bob P, over indulgent behavior in every area

Pray for Lisa, second miscarriage. Wondering if she should try again. (she has found a good support group and making good recovery)

Robbie R. making the transition from gang life to church life, new Christian.

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