Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Test of True Belief

“Do you ever wonder if what we’re doing here is something real or is it just a good thing?”

That was the question that I asked the 40 or so college students that were part of our “community” discussion group last Wednesday night. You see, we’ve talked a lot about “community” in the last couple of years and how much people today need to both see and hear the gospel and how people need to belong before they will believe. We’ve discussed at length this idea of “gospel community” and how the truths of the gospel like forgiveness, love, acceptance and transformation need to be lived out practically within a group of believers. I can honestly say that we’ve learned a lot about that and that every week we see people that have shunned “religion” in the past beginning to actively investigate the person of Jesus because of the love and acceptance that they have seen and felt from our little “community” of believers.

However, we are continually challenged in our understanding and practical application of this valuable truth called “community” and God continues to bring circumstances into our lives that force us to prove our belief in the power of Jesus’ message.

An example of one of those circumstances was the basis for my question to everyone last Wednesday night. Returning to the question, I said, “Sometimes God brings things into our midst that reminds us that what we’re doing here is more than a discussion group, it is a real search for a real God that brings Himself to bear on our real issues.” I then went on to communicate with the group there about the circumstance that God is using to cause us to examine our beliefs and live them out.

The circumstance that I shared was the fact that one of the couples involved in our community had just found out that they were pregnant. Both are committed believers who have seen their lives being changed in the last couple of years. They had been dating a short while and were having difficulties in their physical relationship. They had been open about these difficulties and had been receiving help and accountability in this area. Nonetheless, they found themselves pregnant and facing a situation that was and is beyond their means to solve.

As Kristy and I, along with others, have been counseling them in the past few days we have been reminded of how these are the moments that test what we believe. Do we really believe in a God that forgives, loves, accepts and transforms? If so, then how do we respond in a way that shows His forgiveness, love, acceptance and transformation?

On Wednesday night, I told our “community” and the couple (they were in the room as I shared their news and wanted to be there to ask for help and share their lives with their "community" of believers and friends) that I only “knew” two things about the situation that they were facing. One, that God desires to use this difficulty and their wrong to glorify Himself and make Himself known and two, that our community would walk with them through this.

The response of our community was a joy to watch and to be a part of. Many were crying with compassion and there was a real desire to experience and display the truth of Jesus’ message in this crucial moment among us. One girl who has been “checking out” our group said later that she became convinced of her desire to join our church because of the love and acceptance that she saw. She said that she had never seen anything like it before. Another girl said that up until that point she hadn't understood what "community" meant but that seeing it in action that night had convinced her that she needed "community".

That, my friends, is something very “real” and not just a discussion topic.

I believe that as we each seek to find the truth of the gospel in this situation and to live it out in the way that we forgive, love and accept this couple and their child that God’s greatness will be displayed and that others will want to know a God like that.

Please pray for this couple and the journey that they are just beginning and please pray for us to see and display Jesus in and through this situation.