At Colonial Heights, we have a 4-fold vision which involves us making a plan to Know our People, Love our Community, End our Debt, and Reach our World.
In coming weeks, we’ll talk about aspects of that vision that focus on our community and our world (all that is “outside” the church), but today we are doing some important introspection about what it means for us as a church to Know our People. Why is this so important? Let’s see how Scripture would answer that question.
In the Gospels, we see Jesus spending a lot of time as He was nearing the end of His earthly ministry preparing His disciples for what’s next. One of the most significant passages, in fact what is the longest recorded “lesson” to His disciples, begins at what we now call the Last Supper.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus said:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
A NEW COMMAND
How is this a NEW command? Hadn’t Jesus already encouraged them to love one another? But on this night, things were different. In fact, Jesus knew what the disciples did not know, later that same night everything they knew would change. Their relationship to Jesus and to each other was about to go through massive upheaval. Jesus was preparing them for His death, burial, and resurrection. And He was preparing them for what’s next after that.
When Jesus was physically on earth, His disciples were easily identified. They were the guys WITH Jesus. But what happens once Jesus is gone? How will people know who is His disciple? Jesus tells them in these verses that the world will know them by their love for one another.
A NEW COMMUNITY
Jesus didn’t leave them alone. He left them together. Their new community would (and should) testify to the world. This new command of Jesus set the stage for their new community. This new community would follow the example of sacrificial selflessness set by Jesus and become a community unlike any other in the world because they would be living and loving like Jesus.
Well, Christian, what about our community (the church)? How are we faring on letting the world know us by our love for one another? Does the world know we are Christians by our community?
What should be the “marks” of our Christian community?
We should be UNITED AS ONE IN CHRIST. What unites us is not politics, ethnicity, or socioeconomics. We are one through Christ in us. And we remain united as one as we faithfully meet together for worship, fellowship, discipleship, prayer, and encouragement.
- John 17:21-23 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- Hebrews 10:25 Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We should CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER. Check out these ways Luke, Paul, and John encouraged us to do so.
- Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
- Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
- 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
- 1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
We should HOLD EACH OTHER ACCOUNTABLE biblically through relationships of humility, forgiveness, and grace. We should take the initiative to be accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ, all for the glory of God and for the sake of the gospel.
- Matthew 18:15-17 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
- Luke 17:3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
- Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
- Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
- Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
- Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
- James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
We are to be united as one (despite our differences), meet together, care for each other, and hold each other accountable. It’s hard to do that if we don’t know one another! Hence, part of our vision is to Know our People. We got a jump-start on this process during the pandemic. Our church leaders utilized that time to attempt to contact every person on our church roll. As the year wore on, we wound up attempting to contact every person around 6 times. We made some good strides, but this is an on-going work.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
STAY IN CONTACT Keep in touch with your fellow church members. Take the initiative. Reach out. Pray for one another.
TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER Share with one another as you hear of needs. Provide mental, physical, emotional, & spiritual support.
WELCOME GUESTS AND NEW MEMBERS We’ve had around 90 new members join since June 2020. We’ve also had over 200 guests register since June 2020. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Make the first move. Don’t wait for them to introduce themselves to you. Be intentional to make new people feel welcome.
STRENGTHEN LIFE GROUPS If you’re not in a Life Group, join one. A small group is the best way to get to know one another. Study the Bible together. Minister to one another. Do life together.