Full Expression of the Gospel

May 20th, 2009

From: http://poorinspirithw.blogspot.com/2009/05/full-expression-of-gospel.html:

I read these words from Newsong pastor Dave Gibbons this week and it made me think even more about the concept of community that God has been teaching me so much about lately:“Yes, we’re focused on comfort in the American church and it’s led to a consumer church. In the process, we’ve missed the full expression of the gospel. We’ve missed out on the second most important commandment, which is to love your neighbor. And who is your neighbor? As defined in the scriptures-the story of the Good Samaritan-it’s not someone like you, it’s actually someone not like you, someone you are not naturally drawn to, someone of a different culture, someone you may even hate. Jesus said, Love God and love your neighbor. If you can love someone who is unlike you, that’s when the world will take notice…”I’ve been trying to interact more with my neighbors just within my apartment complex to get to know them and pray for them. I’m still working on how to tangibly love them while I barely know them, and praying that God will give me opportunities. Because God has placed me here and around these people for some reason, and I know I need to be a light to them.

But it made me think even more about community in Hollywood and how we do ministry there…

This past week I went to a conference with work and was able to interact with/hear from some big thinkers, consultants and pastors (such as Dave Gibbons) who are living in these kind of communities or working to build them. Since then, my mind has been flooded with possibilities of what ministry in Hollywood could look like, what community means, how important it is, and what that will require of me.

…”When we got in to a new city to initiate ministry, what do we generally do? We think demographically: who is like me? Shouldn’t we instead ask, Who are the most marginalized people in this community, and then go love on them? Love on them with no strings attached! I really believe that as we reach the marginalized we will reach the masses. Isn’t this what God demonstrated? People who saw Jesus chose to be his disciples. They saw who he hung out with-the fringe-and they said, “Jesus is for us.” That was the story that became viral.”

I’m used to what Broken Hearts does in Hollywood, who we interact with and the lifestyle and environment down there. So I forget this, but truly, we stand out. People notice us and know what we do. We meet people who say they’ve known who we are and what we do for months, because they’ve watched us (unbeknownst to us). Why? We’re mostly a bunch of white, college-aged, clean-cut kids who show up every week, completely out of place. We don’t go for drugs or prostitution or crime…we’re there to love people and tell them about Christ. That’s not normal.

When a white girl who exudes naivete and innocence excitedly greets and hugs a black, transsexual prostitute and starts talking at a table in a donut shop about how their weeks have been, people take notice. Or a Lebanese college student from Orange County hangs out for an hour in a liquor store talking to the owner about his family, without ever buying alcohol, it stands out as abnormal.

And the more we can do of that, the more time we can spend in that area, interacting with these people on a daily basis and sharing their trials and being there for them day-in and day-out, the more that type of healthy community can grow and allow for the love of Christ to be more than words. Maybe that will water the seeds that have been planted and allow us to experience a great harvest.

It’s easy to go to church on Sundays, have our small groups or bible studies throughout the week, go to a Christian school or work at a Christian job and say that we love our neighbors and hope others will see and experience that love. Which they absolutely can. But that’s easy. Even the ‘pagans’ do that, it’s not all that unique.

But what if I spend more time getting to know my next door neighbors of 4 different backgrounds and ethnicities and worldviews, and treat them like I would my Life Group? What if we all hung out with the homeless, poor, widows, gang members and drug dealers around us? How weird would that look? As a RockHarbor pastor recently taught, wouldn’t that make people ask: “What happened here? What happened in this person’s life to make them that way?”

Please join Broken Hearts in praying that God would give us a building, a way to pay for it, and wisdom to know how to use it to further an Acts-like community in Hollywood!

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About Holly

I am a fitness coach, Jesus-follower, and believer that truth and beauty are found in overlooked places. I often write about the connection between the physical and spiritual to encourage strong and empowered Kingdom living.

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