What Makes Community Compelling?
Pastor Eugene shares what it means to bear one another's burdens. You are also encouraged to attend the upcoming Equip seminar, "The Compelling Community: Bearing One Another’s Burdens" taking place on Aug 23-24.
You may have had this experience: You meet a group of people for the first time. Although you are new and unfamiliar, they heartily welcome you. They relate to you with warmth and affection. You feel they genuinely want to get to know you, and they also want to help you know them better. And as you observe their words and actions, it is evident that they love one another. Even before your visit comes to an end, you are already planning to spend time with them again. There is something attractive, compelling even, about this community of people.
It is God’s plan to display His glory through such compelling communities around the world. The local church is to be a community that makes Christ known through the words as well as lives of its members. Jesus gives His disciples a new commandment, saying: “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (Jn 13:34b) Then He tells them why this matters for their mission: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:35) How will the world know that we follow Jesus? It’s from observing our love for one another, which reflects Christ’s love for us.
Obeying Christ’s new commandment enables us to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples of the nations. Paul encourages the Christians in Philippi to relate to one another with Christlike love and humility, because it helps their gospel witness: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Php 2:14-15). When we love one another as Jesus has loved us, we compel others to also want to know the Lord whom we follow. Gospel love makes our gospel witness credible and attractive.
In his excellent book, The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ, Ray Ortlund writes: “By the power of God, the gospel creates something new in the world today. It creates not just a new community, but a new kind of community. Gospel-centred churches are living proof that the good news is true, that Jesus is not a theory but is real, as he gives back to us our humanness. In its doctrine and culture, words and deeds, such a church makes visible the restored humanity only Christ can give.”
How can Grace Baptist Church grow in being a compelling community that commends Christ to the world? God calls us to display Christ’s love by bearing one another’s burdens, especially when we face the challenges of life. We are to share our struggles with sin and suffering, as well as to come alongside one another with the comfort and encouragement of the gospel. In all this, we display the transforming power of Christ Jesus.
Galatians 6:1-2 says, “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. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” These verses reveal several key truths about how we are to bear one another’s burdens.
- Bearing one another’s burdens means helping one another to turn away from sin and to follow Jesus. We need the church to help us grow in holiness. Because I may be blind to my own sin, I need other believers to lovingly and gently call out my sin. I need their help to repent and to be restored.
- Bearing one another’s burdens is spiritual work. We need God’s Spirit to empower and enable us to care for one another in this way. Our flesh tries to avoid this important responsibility because such love can be inconvenient and messy. The Spirit helps us to persevere in love.
- Bearing one another’s burdens takes humility. We serve others not because we are ‘better’ than them. Rather we serve with the awareness that we ourselves face similar struggles and temptations. Therefore we point others not to ourselves but to Christ, who alone has the power to transform us.
- Bearing one another’s burdens obeys Christ’s command to love. When we actively care for one another’s spiritual well-being, we don’t just love in word but also in deed and truth. Putting Christ’s love into action makes the church community compelling.
I would also like to encourage all of us to attend the upcoming Equip seminar, The Compelling Community: Bearing One Another’s Burdens. Its aim is to equip us with biblical truth and tools to help us serve one another with Christ’s love.
The speaker is Pastor Lee Hann Yang from Evangel Bible-Presbyterian Church. Hann Yang graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte) in 2017. He is also a certified biblical counsellor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) in the United States.
The seminar will take place on Friday, Aug 23 (730-930pm) and Saturday, Aug 24 (9am-1pm) at GBC. We are co-organizing this event with Kay Poh Road Baptist Church. You can sign up here: tinyurl.com/compellingcommunity.
This Sunday, we will hear from Romans 9:1-29 about how our great God is absolutely faithful and sovereign. May God humble our hearts before His word, so that we bow down to Him in worship and thanksgiving!
Next Sunday (Aug 18), we will be celebrating GBC’s 60th anniversary at a combined English-Chinese service at 10am. Let’s give thanks to God for His grace towards us, and may we remain faithful to our calling to make Christ known!
Do also pray for Samuel and Jessica Beh, and their two children, Josiah and Ezra. They left on Wednesday for Vancouver, Canada, where Sam will be pursuing theological studies at Regent College. Sam and Jess will be starting a newsletter to share updates. Please email them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to receive the newsletter.