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"The Gospel is Communal" - Monday Moment - July 31, 2023

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Happy Monday, friends! Today’s Monday Moment begins a series I’m calling “The Gospel is…” At its core, the Gospel is the good news. The good news of Jesus, the good news of a God who “so loved the world that she gave her only child.” But the Gospel is more than just a narrative of spiritual redemption. It is a radical, liberatory message of a God who came to earth knowing that he would die an unspeakably horrible death at the hands of the state and leave an example for all future humans of the power and extent of love.

Jesus rarely did anything alone. He was almost always surrounded by family and friends. He dined with people, preached to both small groups and large crowds. He multiplied bread and fish and even turned water into wine. The Son of Man may not have had a place to lay his head, but he definitely had people around him. We can hardly understand the machinations of the apostles or the questions of religious leaders without recognizing that the context is communal. Even after Jesus ascends into heaven, the community of the apostles and early followers was defined by their community. The Book of Acts tells us that, “Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (2:43-47). Life among these “Jesus people” (they didn’t call themselves Christians just yet) was totally dedicated to the community.

We have lost this sense of community in our churches and church structures. Yes, some of our congregations may still form a semblance of this kind of community, but we’ve lost the idea of community where people sell their own possessions and give to those in need. We hoard our wealth to benefit only us and consign this Biblical community to the pages of Marx rather than early Christians. Archbishop Hélder Câmara, a Brazilian cleric and liberation theologian, said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.” Far too often our response to the needs of our communities is to provide for the issue rather than to address the underlying circumstance. In fact, we beat back appeals to justice with logic wrapped in cynicism. For example, another well-known quote says that “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money,” (Margaret Thatcher).

Preachers, pastors, authors, and philosophers the world over have offered their opinions and pronouncements on how we can best live out the Gospel. The fact is that if we don’t live it out in community, we’ve missed the point entirely.

How is the Gospel communal for you? Where could you be more communal?

Let us pray: God, move us to live out the Gospel in the way you intended. Help us to remember the communal context of our lives with and for others. Make us people who do good in community rather than in solitude. Amen.

Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.




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