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The Church as Community

Let’s begin with a quick exercise. The Bible uses many word pictures and metaphors to describe the church. What are some descriptions that come to your mind? What do they say about the church?

A common theme among the metaphors is the preciousness of the church. She is bought with God’s own blood (Acts 20:28). She is one body with Christ as the head, fitted and held together by the participation of each precious joint and part (Eph 4:16). The church is the household of God, a holy temple in which God’s Spirit dwells (Eph 2:19-21). She is being prepared to be the radiant bride of Christ (Rev 19:7-8).

The Bible also says many things about Christians in the church. As we come to Christ, the Living Stone, we are also like living stones built together into a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:4-5). To each Christian is given spiritual gifts for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). We are fellow children under one Father, fellow slaves under one Lord, fellow ambassadors of one gospel, fellow inheritors of the Kingdom of God together with Christ.

The church therefore is not a building, although it may meet in a building. It is not an obligation to fulfil on Sundays, Christmas and Easter. It is not a matter of picking and choosing which style or sermon suits my needs better. It is a precious, blood-bought community that centres around the worship of God and exists to the praise and glory of God. It transcends age, language, ethnicity, geography and time.

It is a life-giving community that draws its own life from Jesus and the Spirit that proclaims life to those around them.

It is a loving community that intentionally pours out love to others because it has personally experienced the radical love and grace of God.

It is a discipling community that is grounded on the Scriptures and equips each member to grow unto maturity in Christ.

It is a serving community that identifies giftings, and that provides space for each person to use their gifts to serve others. It encourages and empowers one another to fulfil their callings within church and in the world.

It is a multiplying community that seeks and supports the advancement of God’s kingdom in Singapore and beyond.

It is a Spirit-filled community that depends on the power of God and delights in the presence of God.

It is a global community where local expressions of church are joined to the worldwide body of Christ in mutual encouragement, learning and prayer.

The church, at its core, is thus a gathering of people saved by grace whose potential is greater than the sum of its parts. If you are a Christian, you have been joined to this community, this body, this building, this household whether you realize it or not. And the church does best when every joint contributes its part that it is gifted for. Will you?

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
1 Thessalonians 5:13c-14
Sat, 25 June 2022

The “Peace and Patience” Frame

Observation:

What is the significance of Paul framing his exhortation with “be at peace” and “be patient”?

Deeper Reflection
PAUL IS SPEAKING TO BELIEVERS IN HIS EXHORTATION, See that no one repays anyone evil for evil” (1 Thess 5:15). These words point to a hard reality and a great temptation in the Christian community. The hard reality is, Christians do hurt one another, intentionally or unintentionally, by words, acts or attitudes. The great temptation is when we are offended and badly hurt, we hold a grudge until we are able to pay back the one who hurt us. Thus, Paul is particularly emphatic: “See that” – “Make sure that this does not happen!”We prevent the negative by practising the positive: “always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thess 5:15). The action called for in “do good” is “seek”. “Seek” speaks of conscious intentionality, proactiveness and effort. It takes a good heart to have this “seek to do good”. It is a matter of the heart: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good” (Lk 6:45). And this seeking to do good is “always” there in the good heart. Along with this is the readiness to forgive those who hurt us. The foundation and starting point of forgiveness is “as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32).“Be at peace among yourselves” and “be patient with them all” frame the constructive actions toward the “idle”, “weak” and “fainthearted”, and those who hurt us (vv.13c-14). “We have no excuse for becoming impatient” with such problematic people “on the grounds that they are difficult, demanding, disappointing, argumentative or rude”62. “Love is patient” (1 Cor 13:4). And peace and patience go hand in hand.
62 John R. W. Stott, Thessalonians, 122
Application:

What does it mean for me to be at peace and be patient with people in the Christian community?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for Church Board: To lead the church together in peace and with patience
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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