Corporate Obedience

So I wrote earlier about the concept of obedience, or the daily living of the Word of God. I looked at some of the motivation and reasoning for what obedience is and why you would want to be obedient to God. Now I'd like to look at two aspects of obedience and some practical examples of how to practice it in your life. This comes out of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40. In this passage, you see that there is an individual and a corporate component to our obedience.

(Most of this content is taken from a short sermon series that I preached for SHEC's youth group, the Uprising Generation. You can find the full video sermon here.)

I’m going to come at this a little backwards. Because I want to start by looking at our corporate responsibility to obedience - to live as loving neighbors with those around us. There are two main ways that we can do this, the first is living in a Christ-centered community, the second is by living with them through accountability and repentance.

Christ Centered Community
We see over and over again in the Bible that God is calling us to live together as his people. From the very beginning when God said that it is not good for man to be alone, to his calling of Abraham to create a whole nation of people serving God, then when Jesus came, he established the church. The church is God’s ultimate plan for how he wants us to live as his people on Earth. He loves the church, he prayed for the church, the church is his perfect vision of how we should live on Earth together. Not that the church is perfect, because it’s populated by imperfect sinners, but that it is the vehicle that God uses and will use to spread his name across the world.

In the book of Acts, we see a picture of this sort of life-building church family. In Acts 2:44-47 it says “And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

So we are called to live and serve together in community. This should take place firstly in your church. You should be a member of your church. Too many people these days float around to a few different churches, seeking one out because of the music style, then going to another because of the preaching, then sometimes a different one because it's where your friends go. This is not what God has called us to though. We need to love all churches and promote unity between them, but you are called to find a single church that is your home. Then you should commit to that church, become a full-time member, and then give back to it through your tithes, volunteering, and prayer.

Most churches these days also have some sort of small group program. At SHEC, they're called Community Groups. These can be some of the most meaningful, rewarding relationships that you will ever have in your life. The people in your small group study God's word with you, live life together with you, and hopefully, hold you accountable to your Christian walk. Which leads me into my next point. In order to live amongst your brothers and sisters in righteousness, it’s going to require something of you. You and those around you will need to be obedient to God’s commands by living in accountability and repentance with each other.

Accountability and Repentance
We are sinners at our core, we always have been and always will be. There is no hope that we could live together in the sort of community described in the book of Acts without sinning against one another. So how do we deal with each other on a day to day basis?

Accountability is the process of holding each other to the standards that Jesus has set for our lives. As I mentioned before, we are not always the best judges of our own actions because of our short-sightedness. We need those around us to call us out on our sin. 

That’s what we have preaching for, pastors and teachers are there speak to you each week and call you to repentance. But it’s most importantly something that needs to happen continually throughout all of our days amongst those who are closest to us. You need to have friends that you can trust who have the ability to speak into your life and hold you to your Christian walk. They need to be able to tell you plainly and honestly when you are sinning, and as well they need to lead you back to God and the Bible.
And then, when you feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction through the accountability and honesty of your brothers and sisters, you need to respond to that call with repentance. You need to confess to God, and in most cases, you need to confess to the person you sinned against. Then you accept Jesus work that he has already done on the cross in payment for your sins, and you beg him to give you the strength to not do that sin again. 

And then you go to the person that you have sinned against and humbly ask them to forgive you. Sometimes there will be strife and lasting consequences, but when you live in a Christ-centered community and embrace a lifestyle of accountability and repentance, you can start to see miraculous things happen. Relationships can be restored and redeemed when we live together as a family in faith, love, and obedience.

When we do this, you will see yourself loving other people as Jesus commanded. You will see the great things that the book of Acts describes for the early church. Do you see what it says there at the end of that passage in Acts? It says that the Lord added daily to the number of people being saved. That’s incredible, that’s obedience and love being played out in order that more and more and more people would come to know Jesus and his power.

So we see what the potential is for a harmonious, effective, unified church. But what does that require? Well in order for you to pursue accountability and repentance, in order for a group of people to be a Christ-centered community, it requires each person to be individually obedient to the first part of our section in Matthew 22. It requires each person to pursue a deep, personal relationship with God. I'll take a look at that in my next post.


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