Growth in Community
Introduction: The Secret Cause of the Health of Rosetto, Pennsylvania
""I remember going to Roseto for the first time, and you'd see three generational family meals, all the bakeries, the people walking up and down the street, sitting on their porches talking to each other . . . It was magical." (from M Gladwell's Outliers)
Living out our biblical faith, renewed to us through covenantal worship, leads us to build community within the congregation and reach out beyond the congregation. We are to do this by developing an active parish life, reaching out to our local communities and extending the gospel to other places through missions. Therefore, we must develop a richer parish life which serves our neighborhoods and seeks to serve real needs.
In order to live in community with one another:
We Must Watch Our Words (4:29-30) so that we do not have unwholesome, rotten or corrupt (sapra) words (Matt. 7:17, 13:48). These tear away at community and poison relationships. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Words that bring such death actually “grieve” the Holy Spirit.
We Must Guard Our Hearts (4:31-32) so that we do not let bitterness, wrath, anger, grumbling, slander or malice ferment inside. Rather we must let this sin go in the reflection that “God in Christ also has forgiven you” (v 32). This is the core exercise of faith. Knowing our standing in Christ provides the basis for our own heart’s assessment and the way we deal with the challenges of life.
We Must Walk in Love so that we imitate God in giving of ourselves, just as Christ loved us and give Himself up for us. Our love is to be expressed as a self–giving sacrifice towards others. Like Christ we are to be an “offering.” This word is based on the Hebrew minchah, the tribute offering. We are like the bread offered and wine poured out (2Cor. 2:15), a fragrant aroma.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more