New City Catechism – Week 48

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Worship Guide
“Facing a Task Unfinished”
(Hymn #348 in Hymns of Grace)
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Q48: What is the church?

A48: God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith, who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.

“Literally” has become a word which stymies me a bit. People use it in the exact opposite of the definition. “They were ‘literally’ the meanest people I’ve ever known.” Were they really? Out of all the people you’ve ever met and all the horrible people you know about in history, they were the meanest? It brings up the moment from The Princess Bride when Vizzini says it’s inconceivable that the man in black is still climbing up the cliff. His cohort, Inigo Montoya, says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” ”Literally” has become that word for this generation.

Within the church, there are words which are misused or misunderstood. “Community” can be that way. It’s an often-used term and one that should be a pillar in every church. However, just as having a meal at church doesn’t constitute true fellowship, having multiple people together doesn’t constitute true community. Community, by definition, isn’t simply people living together. We don’t usually think of prisons as communities. It’s more than just proximity; it’s also a common interest and common values.

When the Bible talks of the church as a community, it’s referencing a group of sinners saved by grace who are working together in the midst of diversity for the common goal of encouraging, learning, and reaching others with the gospel. It’s not simply coming together for one day a week. It’s literally people doing life together. Community within the church is sharing hurts, celebrating victories, carrying burdens, working together, and building one another up as we focus on God.

Simply put, true community is not for the faint of heart. It’s risky. People may know your hurts. But, chances are, you’ll find people with similar hurts. You may be challenged in your walk with Christ. But, chances are, you’ll find people who are wanting the same and need some accountability. Being open and honest is always risky, but the church community should be a safe place to be both.

No church has “arrived” when it comes to community. There are none that are perfect. Grace is no exception. It’s a constant work in progress. We are striving to make it better and would love if you came along with us in creating a godly community!

-Pastor Jon