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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A healthy community is compelled to respond

By Jeff Hegstrom
I love that the gospel of Jesus Christ is such a uniting factor.  The truth is that we are all sinners saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. That is the beauty of the cross. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you have been, your nationality, your job or your financial status.  Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”   We are all one in Christ for those who believed and place our trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.  Paul writes in Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

When I think of COMMUNITY, my first response is to think of the early church from Acts 2 and how they gathered daily to study God’s Word, pray and do life together.  But one thing really stands out for me about this group of believers… they genuinely cared about each other and were concerned about the needs that they saw around them. Acts 2:44-45, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”   This community of believers saw the needs that existed around them and were compelled to RESPOND by selling their possession and goods and giving freely to anyone as needed.

What do you think it was that compelled this community of believers to be so willing to RESPOND as they did to those in need?

When it comes down to it, it can be summed up in these three powerful and life transforming words… “God’s extravagant Love!”  The kind of love that compels you and I to RESPOND with compassion and generosity comes from the overflow of our relationship with God.  As we  “KNOW” God and begin to truly understand the extravagance and generosity of His great love, that He saved us and set us free from our sin and has given us eternal life through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, we cannot help but to RESPOND and allow His love to flow out of our lives, our attitudes, and our actions into all of our relationships with others!

1 John 4:10-11, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

2 Corinthians 5:14, “For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…”

A final thought: When Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in August of 2005, I will never forget how our local church family in Central Illinois couldn’t wait to respond.  They responded immediately by gathering vehicles, clothes, food and cleaning supplies, tools and manpower, and whatever else they could do to help meet a need and make a difference.  Many of our people even took time off of work for the privilege of driving 800 miles to serve those in need, to offer hope and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  Little did we know at that time, that Christ’s love would compel our family to RESPOND to His call three years later, to move to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to partner with Relevant Ministry and for our local church family to RESPOND by sending us out as their first homegrown missionaries.  God is so good!

How does God’s love compel you to RESPOND?

How are you RESPONDING to those in need around you, that you are in COMMUNITY with?

2 Corinthians 8:2-6, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.”

Verse 7, “But just as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us–see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

Community is one of the evidences of what Relevant Ministry calls - the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health".  RM Coaching helps to assess all 7 Marks, providing an insightful check-up for personal spiritual health.  The RM team is writing about all 7 Marks, focusing on one topic a month with a new Blog article each week.  The topic this month is Community.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

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RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

Relevant Ministry Inc.
Training future leaders - Building healthy ministries - Serving on the Gulf Coast

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