Lent | Connect in Gospel Relationships
April 01, 2017
*This is part two of a three part series for Lent 2017. Read part one, "Lent | Know the Gospel".
What does it mean to connect with those around us in gospel relationships?
As we learned last week, we have to know the gospel, as it is the foundation of the Christian life. We have always said that everything we do at Summit Crossing - Limestone is based on Scripture. It undergirds all things because the gospel is all things. While there is always more of the gospel, there is never more than the gospel. So to know the gospel is essential; therefore, it is the first word in our vision statement.
As important as knowing what the gospel is, it is equally important for us to remember our vision statement works together as a cohesive whole: “Know, Connect, Live”. Otherwise, it falls short of guiding us on the path of discipleship. We must be careful to not elevate one above another. What good is it to “know the gospel” if you are unable to “connect in gospel relationships”? “Connecting in gospel relationships” is defined as walking alongside others in gospel community displaying the gospel through thought, speech and action. To know the gospel and not connect can become pharisaical, a new legalism. To connect and not know could lead us down a path of social justice, void of the life-giving message of Jesus. To live and not know or connect can become conformity. The statement works as a whole and they must work together.
MISSION IN COMMUNITY
Another long-held belief here at Summit is that the Holy Spirit is the primary sending agent of the Christian (Luke 4). Go read to find the caveat. :) So if knowing the gospel is the foundation of the Christian life and the Spirit sends us, what does He want us to do? Where is He sending us and how is He sending us? We believe that the Spirit is sending us on His mission. He is sending us just as He sent his early disciples (Mark 6, Luke 10), with brothers and sisters to laugh and cry with us, to help us up when we fall and to remind us of the radiant truth of the gospel on days when it has dimmed. In short, we go on this mission in community. We go on mission to His people whether they are in the 10/40 window or next door. That will look different for each of us, for as a body we all have different functions to fulfill as part of that mission. But make no mistake, the mission is His and His alone. So what is His mission?
He is sending us just as He sent his early disciples, with brothers and sisters to laugh and cry with us, to help us up when we fall and to remind us of the radiant truth of the gospel on days when it has dimmed.
Do not get too excited that you are about to hear God’s mission in a nutshell or annoyed that I presume to have the answer. It simply cannot be shared in one blog post, but I can share my heart on “Connecting in gospel relationships”. I believe the model is simple as is the method. However, bear in mind that simple and easy are two distinct words. Simple does not mean easy.
THE MODEL OF CONNECTING IN GOSPEL RELATIONSHIPS
First, the model of connecting in gospel relationships. What does that even mean and how are we to go about it? As with anything we try to do well, dare I say master, we need to look to the experts for guidance, no, not YouTube. Or maybe just one expert? The master of connecting in gospel relationships is Jesus, the one who put His crown on the bedside table and stepped out of Glory to reconcile an adulterous bride back to His father. The one who lived a perfect life( so we could connect with the Father), suffered at the hands of his creation and died in order to proclaim “It is Finished.” That is the season we find ourselves in, specifically this time of lent where we remember the suffering and the death of the Master. See? Simple, right?
THE METHOD OF CONNECTING IN GOSPEL RELATIONSHIPS
So with Jesus as our model, what were His methods? How did he go about connecting in gospel relationships? A quick read of the gospels reveals those methods whether we understand the details or not. You will find his methods were also later employed by his disciples as you continue reading the New Testament. Because they span time and culture, those same methods are still effective today.
I was reminded that there is a word limit, so let’s get interactive. Go read John 4 - yes - really, now. Then come back. Now ask yourself why Jesus chose to go through Samaria on his way from Jerusalem to Galilee when the Jews had for hundreds of years avoided that route. Wait for it… He went to meet her, the woman at the well! He departed from the normal to connect with a woman, a woman who then carried the gospel message to the town of Sychar. For homework, read Mark 5 and ask a similar question.
All throughout the gospels we see Jesus going to the busy places: the tabernacle, the synagogue and the river (where crowds gathered). It goes on and on. You will find Him simply dining with people and connecting with them where they were so He could show them where they needed to be. It was not normal, rather far from it. He was not always well received (see your earlier reading in Mark), but He still sought out the broken, even some who appeared to have it “under control” by the day’s standard. He did not cloister with believers in a safe place or hide away from the world. He went into the world to change it. We later see the same thing with the disciples that followed him because it had been modeled for them. On a good day, we can still see those same methods utilized by the church today.
Jesus did not cloister with believers in a safe place or hide away from the world. He went into the world to change it.
EVERYDAY ON MISSION
So how can we make everyday a good day on mission? We listen to the One He sent to help, His Spirit in us (John 14). That may mean getting uncomfortable (not always), we may be taken advantage of (likely), we may be ridiculed (probably), yet in so doing we will also make connections with people who desperately need a way out of their circumstances and sin. This is starting to sound an awfully lot like our model, isn’t it?
I am not encouraging anyone to be careless or foolish. I am simply encouraging us (myself included) to listen to the Spirit that resides in every believer. I think we will find He leads us to those He appointed us to encounter a long time ago. We will begin to see those others no longer see: the outcast, the least of these and the sinner in need of a relationship that leads them to the living water. When we do encounter them, we can interrupt our schedule and enjoy a cup of coffee or share a meal and simply listen. Remember, it is simple, but not necessarily easy.
This lent season, ponder the One Who changes the hearts of men and the heart of the world. Ponder what He endured on behalf of those who could not endure. Reflect on His suffering and how His suffering and death created relationship with you. Then rejoice in the One Who came down to you because you could never go up to Him, the One Who accomplished for you what you could not so you can have His heart for His people and seek His kingdom. Seek Him this season. Now get connecting!
- Thank the Father for sending His Son to connect you to His family.
- Ask Jesus to give you His heart for the world around you.
- Ask the Spirit to lead you to those He would have you to connect with in gospel relationships.
*Reminder: Day of corporate fasting and prayer is Thursday, April 6th.
*Read the Lent Season overview for more details.