Summary: Being together in the church is being together in the family of God.
Purpose Driven Life #18
December 13, 2003
“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony. For harmony is as precious as the fragrant anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, and ran down onto his beard, and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew on Mount Hermon, on the mountains of Israel. And God has pronounced this eternal blessing on Jerusalem, even life forevermore.”
This is what God inspired the Psalm write, David, to declare about life together in the church. It’s a beautiful picture and it is not simply a lovely picture for the far future in the fullness of the Kingdom of God, after Jesus returns, but this is for NOW, too, whenever NOW may be in the church. This is what God intends for always in the churches of Jesus Christ.
God envisions us together. We are not only the bride of Christ or the body of Christ. We are God’s children and God’s family. Because of this, we are to know all the benefits of family life, and family life is life together. Flowing from God’s grace, God’s family, and our relationships in it here, are to be typified by grace.
Do you remember what we read in 1 John 3.16 as we were near the conclusion last week? Let’s turn there, again, and understand how our lives are intertwined and how our lives are to be toward one another. (Read.)
This is what we are to be here in our congregation of God’s and Jesus’ church. Our lives are being laid down for each other, but how will that be evident to us and to others who may come among us from time-to-time?
1. Our relationships, here, ought to be open relationships. Our fellowship is not to be something shallow, but something deep and profound. In a trusting and grace filled environment, we CAN be open with each other in a way that is not possible elsewhere. We must be more than superficial. If all we share about are feelings about weather, for instance, that’s shallow. We can share our lives at very deep levels.
1 Jn.1.7-8- we are all here as saints who sin. This is me. This is you. This is not something we need to hide and pretend is not true. We are not here to flaunt our sins or to justify them, but we are here to gain strength and encouragement from each other as we go forward in our lives. This is something that will typify our relationships if we are truly a grace-filled church.
If we would be rooted in legalism and law keeping, then we cannot be open with one another. We don’t want to admit, to ourselves even, leave alone to one another, that we sin and are missing the mark, in such a church. If we are in a legalistic church, we will have feelings that we need to attain and maintain a certain level of perfection by our own strength, in order to qualify or gain God’s favour. Because of this, again, we cannot admit to others that we’re something less than perfect, even though we all know it. In this kind of environment, we have to keep our guard up because you never know who might tell whom and when ‘the fat might hit the fan’ and you might be ‘called on the carpet’ and maybe kept away from the church.
However, this is NOT what we are and not what the church of Jesus can ever be permitted to be. If we’ve ever been this way, then we must never be that way again, and we will not be that way again. God’s grace doesn’t act in those ways and constrain people in those manners.
Notice something else declared in those verses in 1 John. Notice that we live in the light and in the light we get to share with one another. In the light, we get to share our deepest thoughts with people; we get to be intimate with one another, and this is something we have an incredible need for in our lives. Without question, it takes courage and humility, but it can be so very good, and is what is necessary to grow spiritually and to be emotionally healthy.
James 5.16- declares something difficult to do, but it reflects a way to living and a way to conversation that is healthy. It involves risks and if someone ever breaks a confidence, it hurts, and that person hurts, too, because of losing an intimate and sharing friend. But not everyone will break confidences and because some might is not the reason to not be open. Find those individuals with whom you can be closest, because you need them for your growth.