Intro to Week 4 (Growing in Community) — (January 22nd)

684 456 Bridge Church NYC

Jesus, the name above every other name

Jesus, the only one who could ever save

Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe

We live for You

  • Passion, Build My Life

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . Indeed, we have all received grace upon grace from his fullness, for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14-15, 17)

Children need essentials from their community in order to thrive. They require unconditional love, instruction, and time. Children need to bond with others, and they need a structured environment of boundaries.  If any one of these ingredients is missing, their growth will be stunted. If they receive affection and care, but not structure or discipline, they become spoiled and unable to deal with hearing “no.” Even when it’s good for them. At the same time, a caretaker robs children of the ability to understand and express love if they provide their children with strict discipline and routine without kindness and care. Still, if a child is given affection and structure, but no patience and time to mature, he or she will also struggle.
It takes all these components to sustain a healthy environment for children. The same is true for our own spiritual growth. We need to cultivate the habits of grace, truth, and time in our own lives to mature as healthy Christians. Bonding with others and developing healthy boundaries are also critical to our growth. This week, we explore the habit of Growing in Community. To learn more about these principles, we encourage you to read the bestselling book, Changes That Heal, by Dr. Henry Cloud who explains these concepts in greater detail.
The gospel of Jesus Christ offers us the complete expression of what it means to grow in a community because Jesus Christ is the embodiment of grace and truth. In fact, when one of his most faithful followers, John the Apostle, wrote about him, his description reads:

We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

John encountered Jesus personally and heard His teaching directly. He summed up his experience of Jesus in this dynamic phrase: He was “full of grace and truth.” Those who follow Him now have access to “grace upon grace from his fullness.” God poured out His grace, His unearned kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. Jesus forgave those who were considered the worst in society and offered them new life. The outcasts, thieves, and prostitutes suddenly found redemption and eternal significance. John heard Jesus say to the outcast,“I do not condemn you, go and sin no more.” When we express the grace Jesus gave to the outcast, to each other, lives are transformed. When we experience grace from others, it changes everything like nothing else can. We only experience this kind of grace by being in community with others and we cannot grow without it. We need Jesus and each other to take hold of grace.

Jesus reveals the fullness of God’s grace and also His truth to us. tweet

John writes in his gospel “for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The law was the collection of instructions and discipline needed to provide structure for how God’s people should live–what they should and should not do. The law was necessary for the same reason children need rules: to protect and to teach. Like the spoiled child who covers their ears when told “no” because they’ve been given inconsistent boundaries, living a reality outside God’s truth robs us of the understanding we need if we are going to hear the things we don’t like. Jesus spoke the truth so frequently that even his enemies acknowledged it:
When they came, they said to him, “Teacher, we know you are truthful and don’t care what anyone thinks, nor do you show partiality but teach the way of God truthfully. (Mark 12:14)

The truth about God’s character is found in the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Truth is the foundation for our growth and, like grace, is only fully known in a community. The same way we need other people to tell us if we have food stuck in our teeth after dinner, we need community to reflect our inner lives back to us. Without community, we’re liable to convince ourselves of things that are not true.

We also need time. In addition to the compassion of grace and the conviction of truth, time is the commodity of growth. Even with the perfect conditions of grace and truth, growth cannot happen without time. What we do with the time we are given will determine if time serves to help us heal, or instigate the infection of past wounds.

Like children grow into a sense of personal identity through their surrounding community, over time we develop a keen sense of who we are and who we are not. We experience Jesus when we learn to connect with others in a vulnerable way, establish appropriate boundaries, and mature into adulthood over time. This is how we grow in grace and truth.

  1. How did Jesus demonstrate that he was “full of grace and truth?”
  2. What are some reasons that real growth is impossible without input from others?
  3. Read the first chapter of John. Where do you see examples of Jesus demonstrating truth and grace? Where do you see the disciples showing truth and grace in community?

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1 comment
  • Yvonne Eseonu
    REPLY

    This was an excellent reminder that growth happens overtime. Time is always something that I forget to factor in. Transformation is a process. It’s not instant like a microwave although sometimes I wish this was the case. It’s more like a crockpot, which allows all of the ingredients to fully cook slowly but the results are almost always amazing. I am very good at seeing the brokenness within myself but its harder to give myself grace and time to change. I am grateful that I serve a God who is more patient with me than I am with myself. Thank you Lord.

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