Building a Relational Community in Christ

As we begin our year with the theme of “Building a Relational Community in Christ,” the Lord led me to preach and share from 1 John, a letter from the apostle John, to the believers.  At the time of his writing, John’s purpose was intent on reminding the early believers who they were and what set them apart from the world.  In the midst of anti-christ teaching, teaching that distorted and diluted what was established in Christ of who we are and how we are to live, John expresses the distinguishing marks of a true follower in Christ.

In a series of messages, we focused on the fact that in fact, we are called “children of God.”  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1.  At the heart of this letter, John emphatically states who our identity as believers.  

Surrounding this bold and clarifying statement, John emphasizes three important marks that define a believer: 1) He is to walk in the light, 2) He is to stop sinning, and 3) He is to love one another.  These three aspects are the basis of elaboration and messages preached during this season in the months of January and February.

Building a relational community involves all three of these aspects.  In the end, fellowship with one another is vital as our fellowship with God.  This point is made known in John’s letter.  “For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has seen.” 1 John 4:20  We will take a look at what it means to live in a 2-dimensional worldview versus a western individualistic mindset. 

Walk in the Light

What does it mean to “walk in the light” as He is in the light?  What does light have to do with darkness?  How do we do this with God and with one another?  Light has to do with purity and holiness.  Light also has to do with genuineness, honesty, openness, sincerity, and truthfulness.  There is no deceit, no hiding, no pretending, no falsehood.  In our lives with God and with one another we are meant to be honest and truthful.  

Why are we silent with our personal lives? It is walking in the light before God and others that we find accountability, encouragement, support, help and the enjoyment of being truly connected with God and one another.  Walking in the light has nothing to do about being perfect.  It means to be known for who you really are.  “Fear” is an issue that seems to keep us from being truthful.  We don’t want to be embarrassed, feel ashamed, or we don’t want to hurt anyone or step on peoples toes.  But if we walk in Christ’s love with one another, there is no fear.  “There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  1 John 4:18  

Stop Sinning

“No one who lives in him keeps sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen him or know him… No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remain in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”  1 John 3:4-10  Sin hurts our relationship with God and with our relationship with one another.  Walking in the light does not mean being perfect.  However, “not being perfect” is not an excuse to continue to sin.

Stop sinning does not mean we will be sinless.  “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  1 John 2:1

Our fellowship with one another is a privilege, it is a right, and it is a command.  Our fellowship will not be perfect in that we won’t hurt or be hurt by others in the process.  It is what we do in light of our sin and being sinned against that is the difference between living in the light or remain in darkness.  Fellowship with one another allows us to come to each other with confession, repentance, and forgiveness.

Love One Another

“Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.”  1 John 2:10  “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love… Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us… For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command:  “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  1 John 4:7-21

How can we show love to one another, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ?  The question is, “Are you doing it?”  Our problem is that the world has its way of influencing how we look, treat, and act toward one another.   We need to learn God’s way.  This is all part of learning and building a relational community in Christ that will bring glory and honor to Christ.   Loving one another is not just about feelings but more about living rightly with one another.   During the month of February, we will look at practical ways in which we demonstrate our love for one another.