Last Sunday I preached the first sermon in our “One Another” series. I showed that the 59 “one another” passages in Scripture actually speak to an essential part of how we fulfill the Great Commission (Jesus’ mandate to “make disciples” of all nations, Matthew 28:18-20). The early church made disciples by a three-fold process of proclamation (telling the story of Jesus) and edification (cultivating vibrant and attractive community life), which resulted in replication (seeing new people to come to faith in Christ and training them what it means to follow Jesus).
The church was a unique kind of social body in the first century Roman world. Christian community defied the usual categories of race, ethnicity, and class. And it was the vibrant community life of those early Christians, the way they treated one another and the way they ministered to the community, that set them apart. That kind of community life created a curiosity for gospel proclamation, and disciples were added to the church.
What was true then is still true today. When we “one another” well, we cultivate the kind of vibrant Christian community that makes the gospel (proclamation) attractive. When our conversations and relationships are gospel-centered, when we “forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32), we create an atmosphere that is attractive for outsiders, who long for that kind of community life.
When we fail to “one another” well, we cast a shadow on the gospel itself. So the way we interact with one another really is an essential component in making disciples.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible, I think, is 2 Corinthians 4:3, where Paul observes that “if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden from those who are perishing.” We hide the Good News about Jesus when we fail to practice gospel-centered community or (worse) when we practice it well but hide it from our non-Christian friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
It is our dream that Patterson Park Church be known not only for great music, great missions giving, great ministry to families, and great preaching and teaching but also for vibrant community life that invites people to come to know Jesus.
Pastor of Discipleship