20 November 2014

Fellowship of Grace

Founders Note: Today on the blog we have are newest monthly contributor Melanie!!! Melanie is sharing her heart on this month's theme community. To find out more about Melanie and her awesome blog check out her bio on the about page!!!




Fingerprinted on each our souls is a yearning to be fully known by others.
As believers, that hunger stretches even further to experiencing the sweet aroma of Christ in community.
Authentic spiritual community is often difficult to find within the body of believers.
Obviously, on this side of heaven, even the best relationships are marred with stains of loneliness and imperfection.
As someone who has expended numerous years in isolation from community, I now deeply value rich relationships. 
It’s as if the darkness etched an immense craving on my soul to ache for light among the body of Christ.  The taste of beauty within relationships leaves me longing for more. 
Through fellowship with others, we can get a glimpse of His glory and experience the body of Christ in a unique way (Ephesians 4, Romans 12:3-13). 

So what does an authentic grace-focused community look like?
I’m fleshing this out for myself, so I don’t know exactly how it looks; however, I will share truth, along with some of my desires and experiences that have made their mark:

Authentic community is SAFE
Safe community should involve guarding one another in love.
Each person’s story considered sacred—a beautiful interweaving of their life into the bigger redemptive theme of God’s story.
Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) and safe community involves battling for one another against evil’s pursuit of each other’s hearts and families.
Safe relationships involve grace— forgiving one another and overlooking offenses, as we hold tightly to the One and Only perfect Savior (Colossians 3:13). 
Often the safety net of community involves speaking truth in love, which may wound (Proverbs 27:6); however, the love for one another seeps to the root of Christ.
He is the focus.  Always.
There is freedom to love, repent, pray, and fight for one another because safe community believes the best about each other and builds up (Ephesians 4).
Just as Aaron and Hur held up the arms of Moses, safe community involves holding up the arms of one another. 
Real community bears each other’s burdens and endures— calling each other to more (Galatians 6:2).

Authentic community is VULNERABLE
Vulnerability involves strength and a willingness to be wounded for a greater purpose—personal spiritual growth and the good of others.
The foundation of trust and safety first lies in our standing in who we are in Christ.  This, along with safe community, should create a space which grants freedom to take off our masks, become vulnerable.
This should release us to share our brokenness.
There is liberation in a safe and vulnerable community to be real about sin with one another (James 5:16).
We are able to give ourselves because of His love and His redemption in our lives.
Christ’s transformation in our lives is WORTH talking about!  Seeing His hand at work is exciting!
There is power in our stories which offers hope to others.
Our rescue from the enemy is worthy of sharing with others (Psalms 37:2)!
However, there is wisdom and truth in guarding one’s heart (Proverbs 4:23) and devoting much prayer and thought to how and when to share.

Authentic community is LIFE-GIVING
A friend or community that is life-giving leaves us with hope.  More of our Savior.
Like stepping outdoors on a gorgeous spring day—our lungs filled to capacity with fresh sun-kissed air-- life-giving relationships fill our spirits abundantly with kindness, hope, and a deep longing for the Father.
I think of a lavish dinner a girlfriend recently blessed me with.
The finest silverware, china, white tablecloth.
Candlelit surround.
A rich cheese grit appetizer, a main dish of perfection-- flaky fish and robust vegetables.
All finished off with two rich desserts, including homemade ice creams and coffee.
It was heavenly.
The dinner would not have been the same if I had been alone.
Community matters.
Our conversation flowed with the flavorful seasoning of laughter, tears, tenderness, sorrow, and hope.
It was glorious and worshipful.
A precious gift that still brings tears to my eyes.
It was a night that was life-giving.

Authentic community is RESTFUL
You know those dinner parties where everyone is a stranger?
You have to work hard to remember names and faces.
The labor of making chit-chat.
The uncomfortable, itchy polyester dress that is too tight because of the ten pounds you gained since last year’s dinner party.
Your ankles are about to snap in half in high heels you wear once a year.



You carefully try not to fall over as you maneuver around the fancy d├ęcor and lavish food.
You just want fresh air and comfortable clothes.
Talk to people who remember your name and know you.

Restful community is equivalent to wearing your most cozy pajamas.
You don’t care if you’re wearing eyeliner and lipstick or if there are holes in your shirt.
Rest happens with friends who love you deeply.
They truly know you and choose you.  You don’t have to work for their acceptance.
They love you for who you are.  There is rest to be who you are, with no mask.
Whether you are curled up with a cup of coffee overlooking the lake on a girl’s weekend or hovering over mounds of plastic toddler toys with a girlfriend on a playdate, you experience deep soul rest and more of the Father. 
Authentic community is, in fact, a taste of heaven.
This type of community also requires humility—willingness to give and receive.
If we have a difficult time giving or receiving from others, we can block whatever the Lord is wanting to do through the body of Christ and it will not be a place of rest or growth.
The more we exercise our muscles in safe, vulnerable, life-giving, and restful community, the more we can experience the grace, love, and kindness of a Father who desires to give us good gifts (James 1:17).

Please share your thoughts or experiences with grace-filled community!









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{photo credit:  http://thinkstockphotos.ca}

4 comments:

  1. "Authentic community is in fact a taste of heaven." Such true words! Enjoyed this post! :) Community is something that we should all actively strive to build.

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  2. "Vulnerability involves strength and a willingness to be wounded for a greater purpose—personal spiritual growth and the good of others."



    I struggle so much with being vulnerable, and this is an awesome way to frame it.

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  3. Britt- it's hard for me as well- He is faithful and has pushed me outside my comfort zone in so many ways (often painful).

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"Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24