Fundamentals and Applications of the Gospel

This past Sunday the Special Needs STM team had a sweet time of fellowship and equipping together. Over lunch, we got to reflect upon Pastor Mark's sermon ("Satan's Sons No More" - Ephesians 2:1-7) together. I was encouraged by the discussion over the greatest influence in our lives, the reality of the spiritual forces of evil, the lies/deceptions we are prone to when we put other things before God, and our tendency to get distracted and wander (like young Mark Chin at the theme park). In particular, I was convicted by one sharing of how people who have been Christians for a while often get "desensitized" to the gospel in their own lives, but that Ephesians 2 was such a sobering reminder of what our lives were like before being saved: we were "dead in the trespasses and sins" (v.1), "sons of disobedience" (v.2), and "children of wrath" (v.3).

Teddy started off our equipping time by posing the question of "what makes Christians united in a way that is fundamentally different from unity of the world"? What is different about the unity that our team shares as compared to the unity of classmates at school, coworkers at a company, or teammates on a sports team? As our team walked through Ephesians 2 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 together, we were reminded that Christian unity is not based on what we have done but on what Christ has done for us. We are united not necessarily because we are from the same church/team or because we have the same spiritual gifts or goals, but foremost because we have all been saved by grace and made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5-6). We see from 1 Corinthians 12 that though we may all have individuality, we are all members of one body with an indispensable role to play. Not all of us may be an eye or a hand, but "the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable" (v.22). In addition, by bestowing greater honor to the parts that we may think less honorable (v.23), we can show others that our God does not assign value based on our appearance, level of function, wealth, or reputation; our salvation and worth is not by merit but by the economy of grace alone.

So how can we achieve or be growing in this type of unity and love for one another? First, our unity is protected by the holiness of our walks. Ephesians 4:17-24 reminds us that we must no longer be walking in our former ways but "to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (v.23-24). Are we ourselves first growing in our pursuit of holiness? And do we care if others are growing in pursuing holiness? Second, we see from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a several descriptors of what love is. When we see sins in the lives of others, are we willing to love them by speaking into their lives? And when others see sins in our lives, are we willing to receive correction with love and humility? Sin destroys unity, and so we must protect the unity that we have in and through Christ by pursuing holiness in our own lives and being willing to give and receive correction.

We ended our meeting with a time in prayer. A few of our collective prayer requests include: GCC's continued search for a nurse (recently answered, praise God!) and a Bible lesson teacher for the camp, for God to prepare the hearts of the campers to receive His Word, for all the ministry team members to be preparing for camp by continuously pursuing holiness even now and not just seeking to protect the unity of the team during the week of camp, and for the various logistical tasks that our team still needs to do before camp.