The Primacy of Community in the Life of the Church

Rev. Tan Soo Inn and his wife Bernice are the founders of GRACEWORKS (Facebook Link), a publishing, consultancy ministry dedicated to the promotion of spiritual friendship. What is spiritual friendship? I’m glad you asked! Below is a quote from their website that explains:

"We believe that our faith is a relational one. Hey, our God is triune — Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we’re called to love God and neighbour. But how many of us have these vital and life-giving relationships in place?"

Here is where the discipline of spiritual friendship comes in. We need to walk with one another, in the company of Jesus, so that we each can find the strength and encouragement to grow in Christlikeness (see Luke 24:13–35).

Spiritual friendship is friendship that is rooted in Christ, for the purpose of growing in Christ.

The basis of spiritual friendship is a shared relationship with Jesus Christ.

The purpose of spiritual friendship is a common commitment to help one another grow in Christlikeness.

On Sunday, Ps Soo Inn took us on a journey through John 15 which explains God’s ultimate purpose of friendship. He pointed out how easy it is for us to miss the relational dimensions of this passage and to simply assume that God’s objectives for His people are best measured by the size of the crowd, the quality of the building or the amount of money in the collections. Or we could talk about the outreach of the church, the excellence of the sermons and worship or the special programs and courses we are offering. Yes, we know that there is more to the Christian life than these things but somehow, we tend to use what is easiest to measure as a yardstick while overlooking what Jesus actually looks for in the lives of His people.

When it comes to what matters most to Jesus, here are a few points to ponder from John 15:

  1.  How about fruitfulness? Are we bearing the kind of fruit (Christ-like character and living) that God intends?
  2. How about abiding in Jesus? Since He is the vine and we are the branches, are we growing deeper in the discovery of our life-giving connection to Him? The saddest Christian life is the one that is lived independently of the one who is the ultimate source of everything.
  3. How about love? Are we experiencing the joy of both receiving and giving the gift of God’s love? There is no greater proof of being His followers than the demonstration of divine love!
  4. Finally, how about the friendship factor? We want to be good and faithful servants but Jesus states a different intention when he says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends. . .” (John 15:15a)

Our speaker helped us to ponder the implications of God’s desire for us to be true friends with Him and with one another. Let me suggest that you take some time to explore this further. Have a conversation with the one who calls you friend and ask him to help you to experience new dimensions of intimacy with Him. Also, think about the people that you have been meaning to meet up with to build better friendships. Would this be a good moment to schedule that get together?

Let’s get back to the basics of friendship with God and one another so we can focus on the primacy of community in the life of the church! Everything else is simply a by-product of the quality of our relationships.

Pursuing quality over quantity,

Ps George


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