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The Vision of SGC (Part 5 - We Love One Another)

Posted in Fellowship, Life in the Church, Relationships, Vision

Proverbs 29:18 says that "where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law." That word "unrestrained" is also used in Exodus 32:25 where at the scene of the golden calf, "Moses saw that the people were out of control." When we lack direction and clarity about vision we may not necessarily build golden calves, but we will fail to move forward together. We will be an army of only generals and no infantry. That isn't the recipe for a fruitful church. A church needs vision because people need vision.

Further, our church has just celebrated its 20th anniversary. It makes sense that after so long we would take another look at what we are about and specify once again what God wants this church to do and to be. Here is our vision of SGC:

We are a community of believers in Jesus Christ that seeks to be gospel-centered, Bible-saturated, and Spirit-empowered as we worship God, love one another, grow as disciples, serve the needy, and evangelize the lost.

In this post we want to continue thinking about what we are "devoted to." The last post unpacked what it means to be "committed to a worshiping life." This post will focus on being committed to fellowship: We...seek to...live a life of...building up one another.

We Love One Another

But what does it mean that we love one another? Is it hanging out after church in the lobby? Or is it a cookout? Or is it watching a football game together? Or is it confession of sin? What is it?

This is getting at what the New Testament calls "fellowship," the Greek word being koinonia. It has to do with our "partnership" in the gospel (Phil. 1:5), our unity in the Spirit (Phil. 2:1), and our relationship to God and to each other (1 John 1:3-7). In other words, it is sharing our lives together in every way for the sake of the gospel and the glory of God.

It also encompasses the dozens of "one another" commands in the Bible, summed up by the call to "love one another" (John 13:34), "serve one another" (Gal. 5:13), and "build up one another" (Rom. 15:2). In this shared life we "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:1) and use the spiritual gifts God has given us to bless others (1 Cor. 14:26).

In the New Testament when the church was born, it was clear that believers were not merely to hold similar beliefs about Jesus Christ or attend a common weekly meeting. Acts 2:42-47 shows us how the conversions that happened at Pentecost produced a dynamic community of believers:

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

This passage gives us a vivid picture of a community of those brought to Jesus Christ who are Gospel-Centered. They are living a life of fellowship, a truly shared life, one where everyone's faith was built up. It has to do with being together as we hear teaching. It has to do with having "all things in common" (2:44), and sharing with others "as anyone might have need" (v. 45). It has to do with "taking…meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart" (v. 46).

The church is always to be about mission (Matt. 28:16-20; Col. 4:2-6), but she must also prioritize building real community in the midst of a world that pulls people into their own private lives and seems to work against true relationship.

This value of fellowship is the reason we emphasize small groups at SGC. In fact, we see this as second only to Sunday morning worship in terms of a priority within our church life. The "one another's" of the New Testament are profoundly difficult to fulfill in a world like ours unless we commit ourselves to a small group of believers within the larger church. Such a small group becomes a way to live out what it means to "love one another," "serve one another," and "build one another up."

In creating the church, God did not provide yet another venue where we walk in and walk out to check off our individual task list and growth plan. He has created a people who are to live a shared life in a world filled with separation, alienation, and profound loneliness. This is not a virtual community made up of avatars that hide our true self. It is a place where we can truly be ourselves and experience the joy of real relationship. Without question this takes work, but it is work that comes with unexpected joys and fullness of life.

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We are a church built on the Bible, guided and empowered by the Spirit, striving to make disciples, and pursuing holiness in the context of robust biblical relationships.

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