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by Mark Driscoll
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Dodson - The Church: A Gospel-Centered Community, Part 2
Continued from Part 1 Even though Jesus died to remake people into better worshipping, missional communities, the Church still remains imperfect. The family of God is dysfunctional. Why? Because at the center of community we too often have a set of rules, not the gospel.
Gospel, the center of community
Most communities fluctuate in their success based on how well people keep the rules of the community. For instance, if I join a book club my acceptance in the club will likely go up or down based on how well I understood the book, know the author, and can discuss his ideas. My sense of acceptance from the community is related to things I do, not who I am. The same is true for most community outlets in this world. If I am part of a Fantasy Football community, my sense of significance will ride upon how well I know my player stats and football trivia. Bottom line, the strength of a community is often determined by how well I perform, by what I do or don’t do, not who I am.
Rules vs. the Gospel
All too often Christian communities have rules at their center, not the gospel. If you read the Bible, don’t drink beer, and “go to church,” you’re accepted. If you do the opposite, you are not accepted. This is religion, not the gospel. As Tim Keller puts it, religion says “I obey a set of rules, therefore I am accepted,” but the gospel says “You are accepted by sheer grace in Jesus, therefore you obey.” As dysfunctional people, we need something more than performance to bind us together. We need something that provides acceptance and forgiveness even when we fail one another. We also need something big enough to satisfy our infinite appetites for community—something divine. We need Jesus.
Jesus Is Sufficient
Jesus is sufficient for our failures and successes in community. He offers forgiveness for our failure to receive his acceptance and for seeking acceptance and significance in everything but God. With Jesus at the center of our church, we will find greater joy, love, acceptance, and purpose than anywhere else. As a result, we will want to share it, to multiply it, by bringing others into the church.
Community Is Based on the Gospel
The gospel of Jesus makes us new people. It is his grace that forms the center of true community. As a result, Christian community is based on who you are, new people, not what you do. Acceptance and family membership is based on the gospel, upon our repentance from seeking significance in acceptance from persons and things other than God, and reception of God’s acceptance of us in Christ.