I was reading a book by a Small Groups Pastor, Brad House, on the topic of community. I love the following quote he makes:
‘Basically, the witness of community is more powerful than an individual witness. Loving your neighbors is much easier if you never have to deal with them. Living in light of the gospel is much harder in community where people sin against you. Your neighbors know this and that is why talk is cheap. Experiencing a people who confess their sins against one another, repent, and forgive is foreign to the world. Communities that live in this way, transformed by the gospel, will not only have a good reputation among their neighbors, but also they will point them to hope in Jesus. This is a community that has joined the mission of God.’
In light of Steve's current message series on conflict resolution, I thought this quote was rather appropriate. One of the universal connection points for us as mankind is that we have messed up in our relationships with others more times than we can count. We have let down friends, verbally exploded on our spouse, broke a promise to our child, failed a co-worker, and offended our neighbor.
God is a relational and trinitarian God, existing as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Genesis says that He created us male and female in His image. We reflect God to the world through relationships with one another. When sin entered the world, it scarred our relationships and all of sin pretty much boils down to brokeness in our relationship with God (first 4 commandments) and brokenness in our relationship with one another (last 6 commandments).
The most convincing proof of the gospel (God reconciling the world to Himself through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ), is transformed relationships. So as we learn to forgive as Jesus forgave us and love as Jesus loves us we are powerfully putting God on display in our driveways, cubicles, classrooms and kitchens. So conflict resolution is truly the heart of the gospel and central to our mission as Christians. Let's live it out today and let the world see Jesus!