DiscipleshipGospelIdentityMissional Community

How Missional Community Life Exposes Unbelief

The Sweetness of the Gospel for Us

By April 10, 2018 No Comments

 

When we feed our hearts with the gospel and allow God to influence our lives rather than the world’s theology, we will be strengthened to fulfill our calling to make disciples.

Sooner or later every MC faces a standstill; there is complacency and an overall lack of joy within the group. Some start to lack consistency in being a part of the MC, while others continue to meet but lack the ability or desire to be a part of conversation. How did we get here? You wake up one morning with a neutral affection towards your MC family and even God. When life gets busy and your schedule seems booked, it is definitely a tendency to question the purpose and effect of MC life. Is living out the gospel in an intentional and transparent way with an MC family attainable when life seems to be bolting forward? In this article I hope to address some of the common struggles and setbacks a typical MC faces and how the gospel practically and victoriously overcomes our weaknesses and lack of faith.

Too Full?

The most prominent cause for setback that my MC has faced is busyness. In an MC that is rather diverse with a young married couple, stay at home moms, full-time workers, college students, teenagers, elementary kids and younger, there are plenty of reasons for why the pace of life could pull us apart, and it has. Life in general is a face paced, distracting, demanding, and at times an overwhelming thing to keep up with. Personally speaking, as a college student who has two jobs, trains with her friends at the gym, and pursues writing on the side, it has been a temptation to believe that MC life needs to be put on the back burner. I’ve believed it isn’t practical to deeply invest in the people in my MC family because I am too busy.

There are, however, people in my MC who also have a lot going on from having a new baby, to running a business and juggling that with their family responsibilities, to leadership, to losing a loved one…the list goes on. So, what happens when everyone begins to believe that their lives are too full for MC life, and therefore too full for a gospel-centered life? At its core, belief that life is too busy to intentionally display Jesus’ glory is a gospel unbelief issue.

Having a busy life doesn’t always equate to productivity. I believe that the enemy has convinced Americans that to have a purposeful and meaningful life one needs to be overwhelmingly busy. Have you ever noticed when you ask certain people how they’re doing, they automatically seem obligated to tell you how busy they’ve been? Why do we feel the pressure to prove ourselves to others by how busy we are?

As a friend and brother once said to my MC, there will always be things in our lives with which we can be preoccupied with. There will be good things, better things, and then there are the best things. We can spend all of our lives pursuing good things, but these things might not necessarily reap eternal rewards and consequently are not the best things to pursue. Since our time is limited, we need discernment in our pursuit of the things that will further the kingdom of God and deepen our affections for Him the most.

Take a Step Back

Saying that we need to live an intentional and sacrificial life is easy while sitting in a comfortable living room while drinking coffee. It’s easy to say that we need each other in our everyday lives to push one another to live a submitted life out of our love for Jesus, yet it feels entirely different when we get a text from someone in our family who needs help moving when we already have a busy week. So what does this look like practically? How do we fight for each other’s hearts consistently and join together on God’s mission? As Hebrews 10: 24-25 says: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.”

Fighting to meet together is crucial. The enemy will convince us repeatedly that we need to “self-protect” and isolate ourselves in the midst of a busy season. If we are busy to the point where we don’t make time to hear from God through His Word and His people, then we must take a step back to evaluate if our busyness is worthwhile. It is through meeting together that we gain perspective on our circumstances as we take our burdens to one another and pray through these things together. By remembering that we are a family, our tendency to become engulfed with ourselves dissipates.

He is Better

To better illustrate, I’d like to put another “handle” on this truth and get even more real. My MC has experienced seasons of consistent gatherings, yet has lacked a spiritual fervor. It wasn’t until we went away on a weekend retreat that we actually shared our stories with one another which deeply bonded us to each other. The power of sharing our pasts in a safe circle is immeasurable. We gained understanding of why people respond to conflict in different ways, because it goes back to how their family dealt with it. We became aware of why people obsess over particular things like fitness because they deal with body image issues due to things that happened when they were younger.

Laying all of our messes on the table and being completely vulnerable is a humbling thing to say the least, but it is extremely beneficial in creating a culture of transparency. Sharing our stories has allowed us to better know how to apply the gospel in everyday ways, by following up with each other when we see old ways of thinking setting in. When one of us starts obsessing over a misplaced identity, the rest of the family can recognize it and is then able to meet them where they are and remind them of the gospel. This clearly shows what the Father’s relationship is like with His children. As He sees our hearts wandering, He bends down and speaks strong truth with a soft heart. This leads to the stirring up of each other’s affections toward Jesus as we are reminded that ultimately He is better.

Not By Our Effort

Another practical way of applying the gospel to MC life is the subject of giving. This includes giving relationally, making food, being generous with our time and any other resource. The enemy can twist any good intention we have by making us overly self-aware. When we become fixated on measuring the quantity of our giving compared to the rest of those around us, we quickly become self-righteous. In an MC this divides the family as we become proud, judgemental, and bitter. The root of unbelief in this issue of giving is the belief that our identity comes from how much we do and how people view us based on that. Essentially, it is believing that we have more of a place in the family because of what we can give. The gospel sheds light on this by reminding us that our identity isn’t found in any of our greatest efforts. Jesus pursues us where we are and asks us why we give, and don’t give. He convicts those who serve and reminds them that their worth has nothing to do with the measure of their efforts. He also meets those who choose not to give and prompts them with the question of “WHY?” Jesus humbles those who find pride in their doing, and compels those who are complacent to a place of action.

Beyond Limitations

One last example of refinement and sanctification within my MC is loving each other beyond limitations. Often times we embark on what God calls us to with our own strength, and somewhere along the journey we hit a wall, fail miserably, and backslide. The calling to love each other with no limits sounds grand and noble, but when the rubber meets the road it can feel like a hopeless and powerless mission. What happens when that person doesn’t want to be loved? When that person seems to only want to hurt you when you pursue them? Or when you continually give to a relationship and never see a change in that person? When frustration bubbles over the brim in relationships, it’s best to take a step back and ask yourself what the root of the frustration is. If pursuing people and wanting to see change in them stems from glorifying yourself by being their Savior, it’ll never work. The gospel isn’t meant to be a tool to make you look good, it is the power to change people for Jesus, for His glory, and for His delight.

Our delight is found in imaging Jesus, in loving people whether they “get it” or not. Their reaction to our pursuit and constant love of them is irrelevant. It isn’t a journey we can fulfill on our own, however, in fact it is quite impossible. The Spirit is the One who humbles us by revealing how undeserving we are of His love and pursuit of us. If it weren’t for the gospel, we wouldn’t have the desire to love anyone other than ourselves. It is by the power of the Spirit that we are empowered to love beyond our strength.Through Jesus we have been changed and thus, we get to be the hands and feet for the gospel to be carried out to those around us in the everyday stuff of life.

The Gospel for Us

I write all of these things to encourage you that there is hope in the ability to live a purposeful life that is infused with joy. It is indeed attainable to be connected with your MC throughout the week and to push through conflict and busy schedules. The longing to be known by a people and be met with genuine love is, in fact, possible, but it all starts with your heart. It may sound cliche, but the ground you’re watering is the soil that will produce the most fruit. When we feed our hearts with the gospel and allow God to influence our lives rather than the world’s theology, we will be strengthened to fulfill our calling to make disciples. There is no limit to what God can do through one disciple delighting in and submitting to His lordship. As we seek to believe the gospel in our own lives, we are then equipped to bring the sweetness of it to the rest of the family. Seeking a fruitful MC is essentially a calling back to the goodness of the gospel in every crevice of our personal lives!


How has MC life exposed unbelief in your community?

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Rachel Swartley

Author Rachel Swartley

Rachel Swartley is a Physical Therapy student and part-time nanny. She is a member of Imago Dei Communities in Pennsylvania, where her father is a pastor. Rachel grew up with three brothers and now has a beautiful niece and nephew. Rachel enjoys spending time doing Crossfit with friends, writing in journals, and drinking lots of coffee.

More posts by Rachel Swartley

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