Doing Community Effectively – Christian Life Musings Ep.1
I regularly share what’s on my heart, with my email subscribers. Sometimes, I feel the thoughts warrant a blog post and today Christian Life Musings is born. Now and then, I’ll share what’s on my heart with regard to Christian life. Consider it a written podcast, or devotional / food for thought. I pray each episode ministers to you. My goal is to come to you raw and real. Expect typos and thoughts as they flow. I pray you are blessed as I share from my heart, to pour into yours.
Let’s talk about doing community effectively.
Let’s talk… Relationship. Friendship. Community. Family. Doing community effectively requires something personally… from everyone.
We all need others in our life but we don’t always have this. And in some cases, we can take it for granted by not being intentional about building relationships with others who are in our life. Then, if “real life” shows up (because #RealLife), we look around and feel a bit more alone than we’d like.
I think we all can recognize there is such a meaningful richness to life when we share both our difficulties and our victories with people we do life with. Yet there is often something lurking in the back of our minds that can keep us from pursuing effective community life.
Laughing together is good for the soul! Praying for each other is so encouraging! When a friend holds us up through painful experiences or difficult times, it is refreshment to our very bones.
A key struggle in relationship comes with one word…
Ever heard any of these thoughts whizzing around in your head?
“What happens if they don’t like who I am deep inside?”
“What if they use what I said against me?”
“What if they hurt me like that other person did?”
“How can I trust this person when others have let me down or hurt me in the past?”
We all want to be loved and accepted. And, we aught to want this! It’s part of what God put in us, so we would draw to each other and Him. You ARE loved and accepted by God for who He created you to be.
Hear me though… it is not about being whatever version of yourself is most palatable to those around you.
Being unashamedly ourselves, creates something beautiful.
We must go beyond trying to be, “perfect”. To go beyond performing for anyone around us. Instead… we must be our unique selves, (which God created us to be).
In doing so, we become more enjoyed by those around us who yearn for us to drop the act. The truth is, you have a unique “thing” which God planted you on this earth to accomplish and nobody can achieve it but you. If you don’t do what God has placed on your life, then nobody else will. In fact, you don’t even need to “do” in order for this to “work”. Just fully being you can allow this to take effect.
That could feel like a heavy responsibility. And yes… it is weighty for sure. But the JOY of stepping into what you are passionate about and living that out with the people around you? Well that is only part of the joy. The other part is doing life with others who are doing just that. As a body of people… when we EACH unashamedly pursue the passions God has placed in our hearts, we are able to build something meaningful together. We each add to what each other “brings to the table” and together, we really are better.
The world around us is better for us putting aside insecurities. It literally longs for us to get comfortable in our own calling and begin to take it in stride. However old you are today… you’ve got time left to grow into your calling. Today is better than tomorrow.
There is something so beautiful about seeing people live fully in their calling, unashamedly passionate about it. We can do this while caring about those around us. We can do this while “being ourselves”.
You might be thinking… “Yeah, I know this stuff.”, but I want to ask you to do a little internal checking. Are you living out the fullness of who God created you to be?
Let’s talk about sin. Really.
I want to start by just looking at what the Bible has to say about this topic before I finish with some thoughts on how this all ties together. I’m going somewhere with this. Hang with me…
1 Corinthians 5:17 says…
“ Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”.
Galatians 2:20 says…
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Galatians 4:9 says…
” 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?”
Ephesians 4 says…
” 1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called… 17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them… 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
Acts 2:38 says…
” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Colossians 3:1-3 says,
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Let’s finish this look at scripture by reviewing possibly one of the most key sections of scripture on the topic of sin in Romans chapter 6…
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I live fascinated by what the Bible says about the topic of sin and our responsibility to live without it… here on earth. The Bible does promise that one day, as believers, we will be in heaven where sin no longer tempts us. But here on earth, we are commanded to live blameless.
The Bible is clear that if we accept the Son of God, Jesus, as our Savior, then “we have died with Christ”. In this, just like Jesus, we’ve “died to sin once for all”. To quote Paul in Romans 6, we are to “consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
In fact, the Bible takes it a step further. One example of this is Galatians 5:24-25
“ 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
The Bible goes so far as to say that sin no longer has a hold on us, but it goes on to expect us to “live by the Spirit” and to “have crucified the flesh”. It’s only us who choose to try and raise the dead man in us on the odd occasion we choose sin. As a new creation in Christ, we are capable of sin, but no longer prone to sin. We have the right, capability and command to live righteously. God in us makes it possible for us to accomplish this and when we make a mistake, we ask God to forgive us and start fresh. It is impossible to get this down perfectly because we are working out our salvation with God’s help.
The key here, is that we are not subject to or slave to sin. We are alive in Christ. Sin no longer has a hold on us unless we specifically choose to raise our dead man. I’m just gonna say it… that would be creepy. Let’s keep the dead man in his grave and stop trying to resurrect him.
There is a lot of confused theology about the topic of sin. People teach and tell each other that we are, “deceitfully wicked”. My friend… that is a quote from the Old Testament before Jesus came to save us of our sins. It was impossible under the old law to avoid sinning. But then Jesus came to set us free! From this point in scripture, we only see that we are no longer a slave to sin. Why? Because God made a way for you and I to live blameless before Him.
1John 1:8-21 and 2:1 says…
” 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”…
” 2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”
Without God, we are prone to wrongdoing. We come to God as one who has sin and is in need of saving from sin. Once with God, we are saved by grace. There is much I could share on this topic but I believe I am beginning to get somewhere in this conversation with you.
I recognize that some will misunderstand and believe I’ve said Christians cannot sin. I have not. I realize some will believe I think we don’t need a savior. I believe we REALLY need a savior.
Friend, if you saw a person about to be run over by a car, you would run to save them! Right? Would that person continue to need saved from that car for the rest of their life every waking moment? Or would they have been saved and now need to walk out that victory gifted to them? Of course, they are not in need of repeated saving unless they find themselves about to be hit by another car.
We need to heed the words of the Bible and ask God for guidance on how to live out this blameless life we are commanded to step into. God knows could get it wrong and make mistakes. But He is our Father. He will be proud of us for trying! I believe it is a cop out to tell ourselves that we are “sinners saved by grace”, which affords us the ability to walk away from the responsibility of trying to walk out the fullness of what God has called us to. We should more appropriately say that we were once sinners but now we are saved by grace. If we identify ourselves as a sinner, then we will act like one. Just like every other teenager going through an identity crisis and acting out as a result. God help us understand how to live in the fullness of who we are asked to be.
We should ask God to help us and trust ourselves to live alive in Christ… it’s what being a Christian is according to scripture. How can we be a beautiful witness to those who do not know Jesus if our savior cannot even save us from sin? Let us cast of our old man and stop taking him out of the grave. The funeral happened 2,000 years ago. Let’s be done with sin.
Why talk about sin when discussing friendship and vulnerability???
Because. I believe many live afraid to step into their true self, fearing the reaction of others who may see they are not perfect. I’ve got truth for you…. you’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. That does not make us wicked. It makes us real. All of us are on a journey.
We MUST let go of the fear (and lie) that we are shamefully sinful, which can keep us from engaging in relationship with others. We CAN live right before God and we COULD mess up. It’s okay. We have an Advocate to approach if things get a bit off track. Not only does God ask us to focus in on living free of sin, but He gives us His presence to guide us in this journey. What a supportive savior!
The Bible actually says A LOT about the topic of sin and I’ve studied it in depth for many years, (as you can probably see from this post). It’s a fascinating topic which has be twisted and confused through lack of understanding for many centuries.
In fact, back in the 1500’s, Luther recognized that the “common people” lacked understanding because the Bible was only read to them in Latin. He believed people without education should be taught to understand the Bible for themselves and so he dedicated the rest of his life to translating the Bible into the local language (German), so that people could begin to wrap their heads and hearts around the truth about the Christian faith.
In those days, the church leaders knew people were not educated enough to be able to read the Latin Bible and so they abused that power by telling the common people that they must pay the church as a way to save their souls from hell. In simple terms… they told people that they should pay money to the church, which would cause God to forgive their sins. You heard that right… people were taught they could sin and then pay their way out of hell, so to speak.
It’s no wonder with the corruption of the time, that Luther rose up to give common people a chance to learn the truth for themselves. He started a massive revolution and it was largely around the topic of sin – what really did forgive people of their sins and, “buy them a ticket to heaven”.
People have literally died giving you and I the freedom to read the Bible and study it for ourselves. We have learned more and more over the past 500 years but as people, we can tend to adopt change slowly. We’re still learning the truth about sin, outside that lie told behind a Latin Bible to the “commoners”.
When we go back to the original Biblical manuscripts, there is so much interesting stuff to learn, that debunks our understandings. Hear me on this… I’m NOT suggesting a hyper grace message. I’m NOT suggesting there is no hell. I’m not suggesting that we’re incapable of sinning.
I’m pointing out that scripture could not be more clear. Jesus gave His life (brutally!), so that we would be free from the law of sin and death. He defeated these things for us! It is our job to avoid the temptation to raise our “old man” from the dead. It’s our job to be so in love with Jesus that we cannot help but enjoy freedom more than the temptation of sin.
Before we accept Jesus into our life, we are slaves to sin. Once we accept Jesus into our life, we are no longer slaves to sin. That means we are no longer prone to sin and instead are prone to freedom but sometimes make mistakes. The Bible is clear on this. We’ve been offered freedom. When we choose to accept God into our life, He comes and lives in us, to guide us into righteousness. We have a free will to choose how we respond.
I believe that if we choose to embrace the idea that we are still sinners even after becoming a Christian, then we are choosing to tell God that sending His Son Jesus to die on a cross for our sins, isn’t something we want to take advantage of. What a wild rejection!
It is a fundamental part of the Christian faith to accept that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. So, why is it hard for Christians to accept that we are commanded to not live as a sinner after accepting Christ?
I know this is a touchy subject. But when have I ever walked around difficult conversation? I love us too much for that.
How do we respond?
If we are to do friendship and build family among us as community, then we MUST be willing to recognize that we capable of choosing to live right. We are not “shameful”, nor are we “deceitfully wicked”, once we invite God into our life. Jesus died for us so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. His goal was for relationship with us and He gave us one another because He recognizes the power of vulnerably sharing life with loved ones.
Let’s not be afraid of what might happen if we open up or show all of ourselves to those around us. Let’s “be real”.
If you have been rejected for who you are, it’s okay. Jesus was too.
If nobody has ever told you, I want you to know… you are special. You are beautiful with all your flaws. You are important. You matter and you have SO much value to offer the world around you. God put that in you.
Let’s be honest here… hurt comes with the territory of being vulnerable. It’s likely that people will misunderstand or not accept what they see in you. It’s likely we’ll show a part of ourselves that needs to have more character built. I’m okay with that because I WANT people who are in my inner circle, to help me grow. It’s how iron sharpens iron… rubbing each other the wrong way. It’s how we choose to respond that matters.
Vulnerability is a key to doing community effectively. Just make sure you’re vulnerable with people who can be trusted with your heart.
The beauty of being open and real? We find, “our people” – those who love us fully regardless if we do everything right. The ones who don’t care if we have a bad day.
Be yourself unashamedly and let your flaws show a little to those you want to build relationship with. Those who are safe and care about you will respond by building you up, encouraging you to be your best. Sometimes they’ll speak to the areas of your life that need growth and it may be hard to hear. But would you rather nobody helps you grow?
Let’s grow some thicker skin. Let’s expect that things are a bit messy in the journey of growing in God and not expect ourselves to fail.
The result of casting off insecurity is a confidence to go after our calling. The result of going after our calling, is finding like-minded people to run with. And the result of this is a body of people doing community effectively… by impacting the world around them.
Let’s resist the temptation to be afraid of what others may think. They’re probably wishing you’d foster that passion God birthed in you. Pretty sure God is too! Go after it and let insecurities stay buried with your old self. You won’t get it perfect, but you will make progress. It is all any of us can achieve and it’s enough. Be brave. You were born for this!
Join the discussion below!
Let’s connect in the comments about this important discussion. Please pop below and answer these 2 questions…
- What small step can you take today, to step more into the fullness of who God created you to be?
- How would you like to live more alive in Christ this week?
You are loved. x