by Roger Severino
When God calls us to Himself, He also calls us to His people. Here are some of the benefits of Christian community I have discovered in my life.
- Faith was Caught. I did not grow up in the church, so when I became a Christian I was soon introduced to a dynamic group of teenagers in my youth group who were committed to living out their walk with Christ. I looked up to guys like Scott Patty, Robbi Fischer, Marshall Albritton and others who were profoundly impacted by the gospel. You may have heard the saying “more is caught than taught.” I was under some great teaching by my youth pastor, David Busby, but seeing these young men live out their faith at school and in society had a tremendous impact on me as a teenager. They helped me visualize what it means to follow Jesus.
- Friendships & Mentors. There is no bond like those which are formed “in Christ.” Scott Patty and Robbi Fischer are guys I have known since I was a freshman in high school. In college, guys like Bill Maynard, Ray Pendley, Dave Tate, Mark Berry, Todd Burkhalter, David Cropp, and others, encouraged me on my journey. I get together each year with Scott Dean, Paul Winters, and their families; friendships that were formed in seminary. Also, I had mentors in my life, such as David Busby and Scotty Smith, who invested in me and taught me so much about the faith. The churches were I have served, including Brentwood Baptist, have allowed me to continue developing several rich relationships – too many to name.
- Practicing the “one another’s” of Scripture. Only in community do you get to practice the “one another’s” of the Bible. We are called to love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, etc. Life may be easier as a Lone Ranger, but not nearly as enriching. Living in community is part of the work God has done in my life. He has refined me through the messiness and challenges of relationships. He has encouraged me through the kind words of a friend. He has sharpened me through the examples of others who exhibit great faith in adversity. All these growth opportunities are only available in community.
- A Good Offense and a Good Defense. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” I was in a LIFE Group this morning where I was encouraged to pursue putting my faith into action: promoting “love and good works.” This helps with the “offense” part of my faith. But I need a good defense as well. Another part of Hebrews tells us: “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” I check in regularly with a friend and accountability partner; we help one another make the choices we want to make. This helps insure that my heart is not deceived into believing the lies of temptation. This provides a defense against the deception of sin.
How has God used Christian community in your life?
1 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Heb 10:24–25.
2 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Heb 3:13.
by Roger Severino
Paul tells the Ephesians to pay attention to “how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time because the days are evil” (see Ephesians 5:15-16). So how do we make the most of the time? How can we be good stewards of the time allotted to us?
- Realize there are different types of “time.” The New Testament has two words for time: Chronos and Chronos is the time on your watch. Kairos is an opportunity or an occasion. Being a good steward includes time management (chronos) but we can busy ourselves with good things that we neglect the best things. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? A good steward of time is more than having a bunch of checkmarks on your to-do list. Jesus gave us our marching orders captured by the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Does my time reflect that I love God supremely? Does it demonstrate that I am loving others the way Jesus would? Are my days furthering the advance of God’s Kingdom and serving as a testimony to Jesus?
- Remember that time is a gift. In Psalm 90, the author says: “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Wise living begins with recognition that life is fleeting and that every breath we are given is a gift. It’s all gift. Since it is gift, I do not own my time, but I am given it to manage. One day I will give account for this gift. What do I have to show for this gift given to me? Is my time honoring to God?
- Recognize your finitude and your ability to honor God with your time. Jesus is infinite in the sense that He is the second member of the eternal Trinity, but He was finite in His short life on earth. What I mean is that as part of the incarnation, He was limited by space and time and lived a mere 33 years or so. Though He performed great miracles, He did not solve all the world’s problems in terms of people’s physical or societal needs. There are times when He would leave a town where people were looking for Him for further healing, but He leaves them to go to another town (see Mark 1:32-39). Yet, at the end of His life He could pray: “I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave me to do” (John 17:4). Not everyone was healed, but Jesus work was complete. God is not asking for something impossible for you to accomplish with your time. He is merely asking you to be faithful and to use your time in a way that honors Him. We too have the hope of accomplishing the work God calls us to do and to hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (see Matthew 25:14-30).
Are you being a good steward of your time?
by Roger Severino
When I was a teenager, my youth pastor gave me a working definition of love that I have used through the years. “Love is sincerely desiring God’s best for another and doing what I can to see that accomplished.” I have found that to be a pretty good summary of biblical love. Here are five things we learn about love from the Bible.
- Love is the Essence of What God Requires. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, he referenced two, and they both relate to love. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbor (this does not exclude anyone) as we love ourselves (and the assumption is that we do love and take care of ourselves). What is the essence of our calling and purpose in life? To love well the right things – God and others.
- God is Love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that the one who does not love does not know God because God is love. Therefore, when we read the descriptors of love in 1 Corinthians 13 – love is patient, kind, not conceited or selfish, forgives, bears all things, etc. – we get a glimpse of the character of God. Now, it is not accurate to turn this phrase around and say that “love is God,” and then create a god from our notion of what we think love is. In this scenario, you end up with an idol of your own making. But the truth is that the nature of God is love. Jesus shows us the nature and character of God the Father (see John 14:9) and Jesus shows us the nature of love.
- We Love Because God First Loved Us (see 1 John 4:19). We don’t have the capacity to love well in our own strength. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun and does not have light in itself, so we too are reflectors of God’s love. That means we must first be willing to receive the love that God has for us in Christ. Once we receive it, we have the opportunity and command to love others. Love initiates. God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were still rebels against Him, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We love because He first loved us.
- Love is Sacrificial. How did God demonstrate His love according to Romans 5:8? At great cost! The Bible tells us that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Love is giving and sacrificial. Most of what we see in pop culture that defines love is conditional: “I love you because…”, “I love you if…”, “I love you when…” Love in our world is often an emotion, and often a selfish one. We love when someone benefits us. This is not the essence of God’s love.
- Love is a Quality not an Emotion. One of the most radical things Jesus taught His followers was to love their enemies. It is difficult to find this teaching in any of the great ancient philosophies or religions. Godly love initiates and is not dependent on the worthiness of the receiver. Love is a characteristic and quality in the hearts of those who follow Jesus and allow His love to flow through them. How will you love others well today?