Core Values: Authentic Community
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- John 13:34-35
What is Gospel-Centered Community?
Conservative Christian circles toss around the language of “gospel-centered” this or that. But sometimes that’s done in a way that seems more like a patch to make something sound safer and more intentional than it really is, right? Well, I’ve been pondering this idea of a gospel-centered community—a genuinely gospel-centered, gospel-founded, gospel-oriented community. What would it look like to have relationships that consistently lived out the four core truths of the gospel: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration?
Where do we go wrong?
You know what I’ve noticed? Every time a relationship of mine goes awry, it’s because one of these four gospel tenets is out of balance.
Think about it—community breaks down whenever this is out of balance. On one hand, you have people who love to dwell on the Fall. These are the people who seem to have a keen eye for all your faults and failures and feel compelled to bring them to your attention. These are the people you try to avoid, the thought of whom raises your blood pressure.
These are the people who are missing out on the powerful reality of God’s grace. Relationship rarely get deep and intimate because emotional barriers are created for self-defense.
On the other hand, you have people who love to dwell on Redemption. These tend to be people who are kind and sweet and generous, people who you would hate to offend, and people who you could never imagine being offended by. These are the kind of people where everything is alright and they’re alright and you’re alright and nothing could ever not be alright.
These are the people who are denying the very real problem of mankind’s sin. Relationships very rarely get deep and intimate because truth cannot be openly discussed.
How to Create Gospel-Centered Community
My hope is that we as a church can move in a direction where we in our small groups, our Sunday School classes, in our individual relationships, can live out the core truths of the gospel:
1. Creation — Recognize there is genuine value in every human being as those fashioned in God’s image. Search for it. Delight in it, just as God delights in us.
2. Fall — Lovingly engage what is broken and evil. Do it in such a way that the other comes away feeling more loved than if you hadn’t.
3. Redemption — Forgive liberally any grievance that has been made against you. Forgive the same way you’ve been forgiven—completely.
4. Restoration — Dream about what others could become if they were to reach their potential in Christ. He who created a good work in you will carry it on until He comes again.
Questions for You to Think About
So, as we become a more and more gospel-centered, gospel-balanced community, ask yourself the following:
Which of the tenets of the gospel do you tend to dwell on when you get imbalanced?
Can you think of particular relationships that are being affected by that right now?
What relationships do I have that need to be improved?
What is one thing I can do to improve them this week?
What is the most difficult relationship you are dealing with right now?
How can God use you to genuinely model all aspects of the gospel in that relationship? In any relationship?