At some point in my spiritual journey - I realized that although the gospel presented to me at 7 years of age was very clearly the Truth... very clearly true and applicable in my life..... it wasn't the whole story. The gospel I learned as a child until I was ready again to grow spiritually (around say age 21) was all about my relationship with Jesus. All about my individual relationship with God because of Jesus. All about my access to God and access to heaven because of Jesus.
This Jesus-focused gospel was the Truth that got me to love God, to understand His grace and to start on my spiritual journey. But it was just the beginning. This 'beginning gospel' is very apparent on my blog. I know that many readers who email me are at the same stage I am --- just learning how to relate to God, to be with Him, to find out about ourselves to start on our spiritual journey.....
but I know there is so much more for me to learn. I realize that beginning gospel I know is only one piece of the gospel. Yes Jesus does love me and He is my Savior, my best friend and I do have a love & heart for God ---- but Jesus' second command to us is the 2nd part of the gospel. It's about our connection with others. He wants us to be 'right', to be restored in perfect union with Him & ourselves yes --- but He wants us to be right with others too.
So much of what is happening at Southside (see previous 2 posts) is about this same thing I am learning!!! We are re-learning how to be the church outside of our walls!
Just like my little son Raymond who believes the entire world revolves around him and believes his relationship with mommy & daddy is what love is all about --- so also I have believed that for a long time in my relationship with my Father. But God is working on me. It's time for me to grow up in many ways. He is opening my heart & eyes that there's so much more to learn. The gospel is all about the body of Christ. Yes the Message is that He came to save me ---- but The Message after we "get" that is that He came to save the world - and to create a beautiful bride for His son in the greater community of people. The next step is engaging with our communities ('communities' in the church and communities outside the church!).
As far as engaging with the church community -- we must realize that although the church is NOT what connects us to God ---- God IS what connects us to the church. He is the unifier and restorer of all relationships. We must learn to love the church as the body of Christ - all divisions - all types - above ourselves. People different from us, that we don't understand, that we disagree with, people who hurt us and who we hurt. He came to restore us to each other.
and then we are to engage with the community outside of the body of Christ --- seeking the people who don't yet know our Savior and who are not connected to us yet!!
that's the larger big picture gospel isn't it? Making the body more beautiful, stronger and bigger. The gospel is not only the individualistic approach that we are all originally taught.
We - because of our relationship with Him -- automatically are called to be a part of the community - to have deeper relationships in the community --- and to bring more people to the community.
This doesn't take away anything from my passionate pleas for us to spend time with Him individually. To understand our worth in Him. To value the ability to be with Him. To know that He loves ME individually and saved ME is the first step. Being restored to Him individually and being okay with ourselves because of Him is the gospel in the first form we learn it. The gospel the way Raymond is learning it now in his "First Steps to God" book.... but I'm ready to grow up...
...continue to teach me God how to be a better part of the Body of Christ and to help others come to know you and be right with you, with themselves AND with the community!!