On Sunday we had the privilege of hearing from the newest member of the New Life Church pastoral leadership team, Pastor Andrew Arndt. He spoke a sermon entitled “Jesus and His People.” The message was very much in line with the purpose of section community and small groups here at New Life Church and, thus, for this article I want to share in this regard, drawing from what Pastor Andrew taught.
Before I dive into the elements of the article, however, I want to draw your attention toward a couple of resources that you can begin to utilize if you aren’t already. New Life Church makes most all sermons available as podcasts and videos through the church website (www.newlifechurch.org). If you were not able to watch or listen to Pastor Andrew’s message I highly recommend your doing so. As well, you can also go back and listen to or watch other past sermons that have peaked your interest.
The other resource is what we call Sermon Discussion Guides. Each week the Community team at New Life Church puts together, and makes available, these documents for group discussion and/or personal study. They are found on the community resource webpage (www.nlccommunity.com). Along with listening to or watching Pastor Andrew’s teaching I recommend your accessing this weeks discussion guide and walking through the questions and thoughts that it provides. Then I encourage you to make these guides a regular part of your weekly study of what God is sharing through the New Life Church leadership team. As with the podcasts and videos you can also access past sermon discussion guides at any time.
As for this resource, the Community Blog, a major reason for its existence is to ensure that we are regularly sharing the purpose and vision of biblical community at New Life Church. We want to ensure we, as a church family, are all moving in the same direction, aiming at the same target, and functioning within the same framework. Our goal is not to dictate how individual groups function or operate but to ensure that we are unified in our efforts, and that we are healthy in our active pursuit to disciple and be discipled. Therefore, when we have the opportunity to lean upon a word spoken from the Sunday pulpit that identifies and emphasizes this very purpose, we want to take advantage of it. Thus I want to dive into what was shared this past Sunday.
Pastor Andrew, in his inaugural Sunday sermon at New Life Church, shared that we, the human race, are the apple of God’s eye, the crown of His creation. As a result there is a very natural dignity that we all can and should be carrying and living within. That being said, sin has taken us out of that place of dignity and locked us up into a world of ignominy. We all fail to recognize our worth and value as children of the King. This is a disastrous problem of unparalleled significance. However, there is hope. We all know that there is a remedy to our ill repute. His name is Jesus!
Pastor Andrew stated that during Jesus’s days on the earth “…God had restored and was restoring every shred of lost human dignity.” All we have to do is simply turn our gaze toward Jesus. As we look to Him, live in Him, put our faith in Him, we find the hope, and life, and truth that has evaded our understanding. However, Pastor Andrew points-out that Jesus did not call us to do this through individual experience. Certainly we can find Christ in insolation but we dare not stay there. To truly live in Him, and reap the reward of heir and co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17) we must become part of His body – that is, the Church. Pastor Andrew said, “It is not simply an individual experience…but…inescapably a corporate experience.” You see, the great commission, read in Matthew 28, to “…go and make disciples of all nations…” is an element of Jesus working through people for people. By His very nature Jesus works through us to draw close to those who need Him and to help them draw close to Him. It is not quite a symbiotic relationship, as Jesus doesn’t need us to accomplish His goal, but it is like one because we certainly need Him and, Jesus does, through the element of choice, use us in a most intimate fashion. It is His constant and ever reaching love for those He suffered for in action. He pulls us into His story and His efforts. We become His hands and feet, His mouth, and His very heart beat for those who have yet to learn of their royal and priestly value.
Jesus is present in the midst of His people and that is why section community and small groups are so important. Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Church is not a religious duty to be accomplished, but a connecting point with the people of God for the sake of growing in the Lord through relational interaction and others-minded selfless service. It is the place where we can best encounter Jesus Himself and where He has positioned Himself to encounter us.
For those leading in section community or in groups, may you be encouraged in knowing the opportunity you have to spur others on toward love and good deeds. Your weekly gathering places are more than social clubs for healthy communal interaction; they are a place of eternal impact, spiritual healing and Christian maturity. They are a place to give and receive personal care in an environment of trusted vulnerability. Stay strong, then, in your own understanding, and remind others often of the dignity they have as dearly loved members of God’s house through the person of Jesus Christ.
Go Deeper – Grow Stronger