In my initial interview with my mission board before going to Mexico, a wise pastor recommended that I regularly read devotional books to help me apply the Scripture to my life and to the lives of those I would serve in ministry.
As I was moving into my office here at Trinity (which always has a comfortable chair waiting for you to come and visit), I found a few copies of True Community by Jerry Bridges. I had enjoyed reading it in Mexico, and as I began to read the first chapter, I remembered why.
True Community is Jerry Bridge’s 3rd revision of his intensely practical biblical theology of fellowship/caring/community. This is the fruit of a lifetime of studying and teaching on this important topic, and living it out in his 60+ year ministry at The Navigators. The first chapter is 8 pages short. You can easily read it in 5-7 minutes.
I would like to share with you the four main lessons from the first chapter.
1. True christian community “goes much deeper than sharing common goals . . . (it) is first of all a sharing of the common life of Christ” (10). What does this mean? Read the rest of the chapter and book to find out!
2. True christian community includes working together to glorify God by “the promotion of the gospel and the building up of believers” (12).
You may have heard before that Trinity Baptist Church exists to “proclaim the love of Jesus in the power of the Spirit for the glory of God.” However, this book highlights that you and I can do that TOGETHER. Working to share Jesus’ love through actions and words with your neighbor or coworker might sound like the hard work that it is.
However, add “together” to that. Now you and a close Christian sister are meeting weekly to pray for a neighbor. Together you take her out for coffee and begin to share in the joys and sorrows of her life. Months or years later, you and your Christian sister tearfully rejoice together as your neighbor places her faith in Jesus and experiences His life-transforming never-ending love for the first time. Hard and, at times, disappointing work can become an exciting challenge when it is done TOGETHER.
3. True christian community includes “sharing with one another on a close personal and spiritual level.” This is a major goal of LifeGroups at Trinity. If you are part of a LifeGroup, please read this!
4. True christian community includes sharing “material possessions with those in need.” Jesus took our rags so that we could share in his princely inheritance. In our short time here at Trinity, my family and I have been overwhelmed by so many acts of kindness and generosity! Thank you for showing us Jesus’ love in this way!
If you are interested in reading more, I have a copy I would be glad to loan to you. It is also available online at Amazon in hard copy, digital, or, my favorite way of “reading” books–audio book!
Pastor Jason Armstrong