Since the resurrection the church has had one mission: to be Christ’s witnesses both where we are and to the ends of the earth. That was the mission given to the apostles, the medievals, the Reformers, and the modern American church we are a part of. Will we devote ourselves to that mission? It’s humbling because it’s the same cause that God has called every church over the past 2000 years, but it is an honor to be able to participate in the radical renewal of all creation that stems from the throne of God Himself. Further, it’s the mission that caused someone to preach the Gospel to someone else who preached the Gospel to us. Will we devote ourselves to it?
It seems like so many people want to say that they love Jesus (or at the very least like the ideas associated with Jesus), but so few love the church. Even among Christians, so many want to devote themselves to Jesus, but not devote themselves to a local church. Why is that? It’s true that we shouldn’t put our faith in man; no pastor can save us. But Christ still refers to the church as His Bride that He died to redeem. We can’t claim to truly be devoted to Jesus if we hate—or are even simply apathetic toward—that which He loves unconditionally and emptied Himself to save.
Researchers are finding that people feel lonelier and emptier than ever before. Social networks, extracurricular activities, and civic associations haven’t solved the problem because none of our circumstances or abilities can truly make us belong or feel united. We need to recognize that at every turn, our sin moves to divide us and the only thing that can actually sustain lasting community is the finished work of Christ on the cross. But what does it look like to build that beautiful community of the Gospel that we see in Acts 2, knowing that our sinful nature always drives us to the mess that we see in the rest of the New Testament?
In our section of Acts 2, we see an ideal Gospel community presented. At Veritas we try to live that out in Community Groups. However, throughout the rest of the New Testament we see these early church communities getting seemingly everything wrong. In one case, rather than breaking bread together, they’re just there to get drunk off of the wine! In our time, we encounter the same mess. We all bring sin into our communities, so we all contribute to the mess that we see and want to reject. But knowing that community without sin is impossible on this side of eternity, how do we see, feel, and experience our messy communities as fulfilling communities?
Why are we here? Why do we come to church on Sunday. The easy answer is to say that we go to church to worship, but what is distinctive about worship in a church instead downloading worship music and a podcast? The Sunday morning worship gathering is meaningful because it is the Bride of Christ coming together to worship in unity. It is from here that we can see the unifying power of the Gospel, the joy that the Gospel places within us, and the window open for the Gospel to bring others into the people that God is building for Himself.