The basis of community

My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

January/February 2014 Issue – ‘Songs for the Road’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Psalm 133 (NIV): ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.”

We read in today’s study; ‘Two images are used by the psalmist to describe the blessings that result from unity. Let’s look first at the image of oil running down over Aaron’s beard. Exodus tells us about the ordination of Aaron and his sons. After sacrifices were prepared he was dressed in priestly garments and a special anointing oil was poured over his head. Oil, as most of you would be aware, is used in Scripture as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. …

Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.

I think the prayer for today, is an excellent summary of this study: ‘O Father, thank You for reminding me that our community of believers is determined by what we are, by reason of Your Son. You have anointed us with Your Spirit and thus set us apart for service to one another. Help me grasp this thrilling truth. Amen.’

Why is there division within and between Christian communities? Is it because of pride and prejudices or the inability to forgive?

In John 13:34, we read: ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ Perhaps, the divisions we see within the Christian Church, comes down to the basic fact that we don’t love each other in the same way that Jesus loves us?

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:1-4), we have this excellent advice: ‘Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ [Sermon below, covers these verses.]

And, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:1-4,12-14: ‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. …

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

As you can see – there is a common theme – to be patient, forgiving and loving of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters. However, this does not mean that we should be in community with those who believe in a different gospel.

The basis of community starts and ends with God’s chosen people – those who whole-heartedly believe in the Word of God; the faithful flock who follow Jesus.

Your views?

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Yesterday, at the Nowra Baptist Church (NBC – www.nowrabaptist.org.au/), I heard an excellent sermon on unity in Christ – the basis of community [Philippians 1:27 – 2:11], delivered by pastor Richard Utber.

I’ve included an edited version of the sermon here