By Jesiah Dorpat
God’s words bring life.
From the forming of creation, to the words of God given in the ten commandments, to the cries of the prophets who were God’s mouthpieces, to Jesus who is the Word made flesh- God’s words have always brought life to dead souls, clarity to confusion, and peace in times of chaos. In Isaiah 35, in response to the truth of God being proclaimed, the blind and deaf (and mute and lame!) are healed and streams of water break forth in the desert wasteland! This same miracle-working, life-speaking God is present with us today in His Word, and we get to gather as a community of believers to listen and be changed.
Personal study of scripture is absolutely imperative to the Christian life, and it is the backbone to Christ-centered Christian community. God instructs us in Colossians to make His word the center of our fellowship with other believers, telling us “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
We Gather to hear the Word
We need the word to counsel, warn, encourage and comfort each other. When we gather around God’s word, we are able to encourage one another well and avoid spewing “advice” or opinions that may be more destructive than helpful. In the trials of life, we need to hear the words of God spoken to us; telling us the good news of what Jesus has done and who we are in Him! If we are honest, there are times when we don’t want to hear the truth; times where we want to remain deceived. This is precisely why we need the community of the saints to speak the truth in love through the leading of the Spirit.
We need to hear the word in community to combat the lies of the enemy and our flesh. Like soldiers fighting in the dead of winter, our communities are to be huddles of warmth where we read aloud to one another these letters of hope sent by our loved one. These words keep us and hold us steady; they arm us to fight against the temptation to give up or disbelieve the truth. As a community, we get to speak these words to each other and combat our tendency to grow callous to our sin and God’s beautiful grace! Hebrews 3:13 says it well: “..exhort one another every day, as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
We Gather to live out the Word
We must hear the words of God in order to believe the words of God, but it doesn’t stop there as we know that true belief always elicits action. Practically, this means when we gather together we “encourage one another” and “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25) and that it spills over into the way we love one another outside of our designated gathering times. This could mean doing a good work for another couple by watching their kids so they can go on a date or sending a letter of encouragement to a friend in a tough spot. It means confessing sin to one another (1 John 1:9), praying for one another, bearing the burdens of one another (Gal 6:2), weeping with those who are weep, and rejoicing with those who are rejoicing (Rom. 12:15). We speak the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:15). We fulfill the great commission (Mat. 28:19) by telling others about Jesus and inviting them into the family of God. We work together to seek the welfare of our city (Jer. 29:7). The Holy Spirit empowers us to point to our amazing King Jesus in the way we love one another and the world (John 13:34-35).
Jesus has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light! We are God’s ambassadors, showing those around us what the Kingdom of God is like. May the world see a community of believers, steeped in the wonderful Story of God, that sings with the Psalmist, ”How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”