Investing in and enjoying the fellowship of believers called the Church.
Our new life includes a new identity that is shaped by a new purpose and experienced in a new family. The New Testament Church was radical in their commitment to Christian Fellowship or gathering with other believers. Jesus had instructed His disciples to lead a new kind of community, not of regulations and rituals, but of love and purpose. The church rallied together as the community of believers causing the predicted outcome, “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). The radical new community of Christ followers became so compelling that even in the face of severe persecution the Church was growing daily. We can be like that Church.
Am I developing relationships?
If the answer to this question is no, then it is also true that your spiritual growth is stalled. The pattern that is clear in the New Testament Church is one of togetherness and devotion. It may be true that persecution was a motivator for the kind of unity and connectedness that we read of, but the commands of Jesus should be motivation enough. Jesus clearly intended for the Church to be a radical loving community. Jesus, and His disciples, spent a great deal of time teaching on Godly community.
Mark 9:50 – Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.
John 13:14 - If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
John 13:34 - A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35 - By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 15:17 - This I command you, that you love one another.
Romans 14:19 - So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.
Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Each individual Christian is responsible to contribute to the community on a level consistent with Jesus’ teachings. The message of salvation through Jesus the risen Savior is good news, but the message of transformation is hollow apart from the evidence of transformed lives in the context of loving community. The result of grace received should be love offered. The world is curious to see if we are truly changed. Will they know by our love? Will they witness something radical and compelling?
There are many ways along your spiritual journey that your commitment to the community will be tested. The first test is likely to be whether or not you will choose to invest your time and energy in building relationships. Invest is a good word because it is active, costly, and there is perceived risk involved. It is scary to know and be known, but is essential to our growth. We offer Growth Groups* on a semester basis. These Growth Groups will continuously be a next step for you. Commit to investing in community by developing the habit of group involvement.
(To discover more information about Growth Groups at Eastridge, click HERE.)
Am I growing?
At Eastridge we believe that a healthy devotion to growing relationships should produce spiritual growth. Each of us has a story to tell and a journey to share. We each become spiritually richer as we blend our experiences together into a beautiful tapestry. One person’s story of God’s grace helps another to see grace more fully. One person’s spiritual habits help another to experience God more fruitfully. One person’s miraculous experience inspires another. One person’s commitment to integrity and obedience give another a better picture of Holiness. We are all integral to the expression of God’s infinite nature. In short, we need each other to keep growing our understanding of God’s great love.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
It is part of God’s plan to express Himself through His children to each other and the world. To understand this, is to understand what a great privilege and responsibility we have to be God’s hands and feet.
Make a commitment to constantly challenge yourself to new levels of connectedness. Don’t get comfortable with a handful of friends and settle in to a cozy place. We believe that comfort is the enemy of progress. This is especially true in a dynamic Biblical community. We should always be embracing new people into meaningful relationships. When we allow ourselves to be a selfless member of a dynamic fellowship, then spiritual growth will result for us, and those we connect with.