Challenge One Another to Walk as Christ.
Gospel-Centered Community (GCC): a body of committed believers, connected by a shared purpose and vision to see Jesus glorified, and who challenge each other into deeper relationships with Jesus and one another.
Gospel-Centered Missional Community (GCMC): the practical outworking of GCC. Focuses on cultivating disciples who make connected disciples.
I have named the process for growing into community The Walk, and it looks like this:
This second of three posts will discuss the committed actions, and their associated elements, for developing community. So what does challenge mean in this context? It is foremost, a committed action
The committed action of Challenge may be read as:
We challenge each other to seek God, unity, and good-will; and to submit to the Word, one another, and the body so that we may walk as Jesus walked.
Challenging Each Other to walk as Jesus Walked
People say they appreciate when someone challenges them, but if we are honest, we prefer for others not to challenge us. At our very core, we refuse challenge and view it as either rejection or a sign of contempt. In fact, if you read quotes about challenge, many of them speak to “overcoming challenge” and “victory in spite of challenge.” Challenge is often interpreted as a hurdle we need to overcome.
That is not the role of challenge within GCC. In fact, it is out of love for other members of our community that we challenge them. Challenge is practiced within the context of community, to “invite each other to take part in” growing more deeply into Jesus. Specifically, it is the call of Hebrews 10:24-25 to “stir up one another to love and good works” and “encourage one another” so that we may walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6). By challenging each other through “teaching and admonishing in all wisdom” (Col 3:16) we spur one another on toward Christ. And what is it the practice we hope to inspire? The practice of seeking and submitting to our Savior.
To seek God, unity, and good-will
Finding God ought to be simple for most Christians to understand, even if they do not do it consistently. When we seek to know God, we are better able to see Christ clearly. When we see Christ clearly, we allow His light to shine on the areas of our life where we fall short of His glory. In knowing those areas, we can present them to God, in repentance, for righteousness sake. A community of people who love you, will challenge you to seek God, both individually and corporately continually. As a community, we must commit to challenging each other to seek God with our whole heart.
Unity is grander than agreement on all issues. Instead it leads to a community joined in heart and mind for the sake of Truth, Christ, and love for one another. Ultimately, unity manifests the agreement to participate as citizens of the same Kingdom, under the Lordship of Christ. As a community, we must commit to encouraging each other to seek unity among ourselves.
Seeking good-will has to do with those outside of your Christian community. This includes not only your brothers and sisters in Christ but everyone you interact with on a daily basis. We are good stewards of the God-given grace we experience when we extend it to those outside our gathering. We must seek to build and maintain a reputation that causes others to “recognize that [we] have been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). As a community, we commit to challenging each other to seek the good-will of those around us.
Submit to the Word, One Another, and the Body
When we speak of submission in the biblical sense, we are not talking about forced subservience. Instead, biblical submission is the willingness to yield to another’s will or authority, especially Jesus’. In the opening sentences of his gospel account, The Apostle John identifies Jesus as The Word (John 1:1-5.) In this context, Christian community carries forward that revelation by submission to Jesus as the spoken Word of God. Therefore, a community seeking to walk like Christ challenges one another to submit to the entire counsel of God found in the Bible.
Christians commonly refer to this type of submission as “accountability.” Unfortunately, accountability is only as useful as you are honest with each other. Too often, shame, guilt, or pride, coupled with the lack of authentic Christian community, prevents real accountability. In GCC, members commit to challenging each other to be in individual submission to one another. This does not mean that you submit individually to all 30 members of the community. What it does mean is you commit yourself in mutual submission to a few chosen people. Once you intentionally invest in relationships with the purpose of all members giving and yielding to the wisdom of Christ, submission will mature.
Submission to the body is yielding to the movement of the Holy Spirit in the context of community. It centers on mutual trust that your fellow Saints are seeking God and His wisdom. It has to do with taking issues and concerns to God in a corporate and communal setting and then trusting the collective wisdom. And why do we practice submitting to one another? “Out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).
How is this Biblical?
Acts 2:42-47 provides us with a clear picture of the early church challenging each other through seeking and submission. This passage tells us how the members “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship.” In this single verse, we see a community making a commitment to seek both God and unity among themselves. They did this by submission to teaching, attending temple together, and eating in each others’ homes (verse 46).
Verse 44 shows additional evidence of their commitment to unity and submission. It tells us the believers were together and had all things in common, indicating their willingness to maintain one heart and mind in one Spirit. Submission was a key ingredient in their community. But not necessarily submission to the apostle’s authority, but rather to the word of God spoken over them.
Lastly, in verse 47, we see their willingness to seek the good-will of those around them. Many biblical commenters agree that “having favor with all the people” means the believers garnered the respect of all individuals, even the unbeliever. This respect was gained through their piety as followers of Christ and their unrestrained generosity and charity. In fact, charity was not confined solely to their community; but was all-embracing and extensive. Verse 45 says, “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” We understand this generosity not being restricted to only believers, as the verse indicated “as any had need.”
Challenging each other, as a community, to seek and submit will always result in walking as Jesus walked. The Word of God has provided us with a clear understanding and attitude on how to engage, love, and submit to our brothers and sisters. Day by day, what may first feel like an exercise, will grow into a habit, and ultimately reward us with a practice of embracing challenge for the sake of the Kingdom and relationship with our Savior.