Most of us have a desire to belong somewhere. Rarely does anybody want to be alone, except those who see it as their life’s calling and they are to be greatly admired. And irrespective of our life circumstances or the various paths we’ve taken, being part of a community is something that makes our experience richer.
Wesley Mission is both a community service agency and a church community that believes in the strength of unity. When we unite for a common purpose, in our belief in God, something powerful happens.
As a united community of faith, we desire to create a place where anyone can belong. So despite our past or the struggles we currently face, belonging to a community of faith means everyone is welcome. When people walk into our community they can come, just as they are, and discover who they are in Christ.
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Bible verse: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV
The apostle Paul testified to the transformative effect of Jesus Christ in his life and the contrast of before and after was nothing short of miraculous. When we look at the life of Saul, before he was renamed Paul, we see someone who had been dedicated to persecuting Christians. Of all the people that God could have chosen to grow the early church and take the message of the gospel to the gentiles, why did he choose Paul?
Paul may seem a strange choice to us, but God knew exactly what he was doing. He knew that once Paul repented of his sins and turned to Jesus, he would be a new creation! He would be welcomed with open arms into the Kingdom, and ready to lead and establish communities of faith full of other repentant sinners.
You too are welcome – no matter what you have done, the community of faith is for you, because in Christ you are a new creation. If you accept him, nothing you have done can disqualify you from being part of his Kingdom.
Prayer: Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. Thank you so much for forgiving me and welcoming me into your Kingdom. Please help me to live up to my new creation identity. In his name I express my thanks. Amen.
Unity and diversity
Bible verse: Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV
As Paul travelled around the Ancient World, preaching the gospel, he had many important lessons to impart to the new Christians. One such lesson is about the importance of unity and diversity in Christian community.
As Paul explains in 1 Corinthians, his important letter to the church in Corinth, every Christian community is made up of many different parts–people gifted in many different ways–who unite together under the headship of the Lord Jesus.
Not all of us are gifted teachers or evangelists like Paul. But you have been given a special role to play in the church. Do you know what your gift is? Ask God to help you figure out how you can use the way he has shaped you to be a blessing to others and to serve the Body of Christ.
Prayer: God, thank you for making me unique and an individual. Please show me how I can use my gifts, talents and experiences to serve the church. And please help all of us different people be united in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Love never fails
Bible verse: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
What makes Christian communities stand out from other social clubs or groups? Paul says that it is love.
According to Paul, love is the most important quality for a community of faith to possess. And that the world will recognise us by the way that we love one another. But why is it that love is the defining feature of faith communities?
As Paul explains, love will last into eternity. Because Paul had a heart for the Lord, he also had a heart for his people. In Paul’s engagement with others, he didn’t act as though he was better than them, but instead fuelled his conversation with compassion. This is an important thing to learn from Paul, especially in our interactions with others about faith. To live together with genuine love and compassion for God and all people.
How are you going at loving those in your community of faith?
Prayer: Lord, please give me a humble and compassionate heart to encourage others in their faith. Help me to remember the incredible love of Christ and to share his love with others, so that the world may know you. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The power of prayer
Bible verse: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV
Paul knows the power of prayer. When he was in prison, on multiple occasions God threw off his chains in response to prayer! Paul escaped many a dangerous situation through the power of prayer, and he urges the readers of his letters to be similarly devoted to prayer.
A flourishing faith community is one that understands how important it is to pray for one another. As Paul urges in Ephesians 6, we must always keep on praying, bringing all types of prayers and requests for each other to God.
God listens to our prayers and answers them. And something else happens when we pray: we display love to one another. We show each other that we care about each other’s lives and faith journeys.
Why not spend some time today praying for those in your community?
Prayer: Dear God, I want to pray today for the people in my community. Thank you for their faith. Please encourage them and equip them for every good work. Please remind them of your love. Amen
Together we can
Bible verse: And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
When life is getting you down, and it’s hard to trust in God, where do you turn?
The writer to the Hebrews has a great answer: we should turn to one another.
In a community of faith, we are all responsible for each other–for spurring each other on and encouraging each other for our whole lives–or until Jesus returns. That’s why it’s so important that we commit to regularly meeting with other Christians, because we cannot do this alone.
Paul knew that well: he surrounded himself with supporters and friends to encourage him, and when he preached the gospel, he wanted to establish communities of Christians, not just convert individual believers. It’s no surprise that most of his letters are to groups not individuals!
Together, we can hold on to our faith, no matter what comes our way. Don’t give up on your faith community.
Prayer: God, thank you for giving me brothers and sisters in Christ to help me in my walk with you. Please help me to persevere in my faith, and to help them do the same. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.