The restorative nature of gospel community

Paul David Tripp recently tweeted, Corporate worship is designed to cause you to run from the kingdom of self and run to the kingdom of God, to dethrone yourself and to give your life to celebrating and serving the King of Kings everywhere you are and in whatever you do. I couldn’t love this any more—it’s a poignant reminder of why Christian community is vital to the health of our souls. Yes, community is important for other reasons, too, and we at Mundane Faithfulness are the first to tout those reasons, but I think that the kind of community we find at worship, lovingly encouraging us to dethrone self, is the top reason. Every Sunday we come together, worshipping together as children of the King, and remind ourselves and each other that we are not the point.

At the same time, Sunday community gives us the opportunity to remind each other of God’s love for us; we get to be the hands and feet of Jesus, noticing hurting people, meeting newbies, edifying those who are weary. As I get older, I’m learning what a sacred place church really is—not because of the crosses or fancy music, but because it is a place where, regardless of how my week went and the lies I was fed and the lies I believed, I can encounter voices that speak the truth of the whole gospel:

            God loves you.

            God is on your side.

            He is coming after you.

            He is relentless. (Eugene Peterson)

I wonder where else we can experience this kind of Truth telling? How can we create these places for others? One of my sacred places of Truth telling is my yoga studio, where the gospel of God’s relentless love is shared regularly. My yoga mentor recently held a special evening called, “Honoring the Feminine.” This time provided a place of safety where women were invited to share their stories and be assured of their value in God’s eyes. The evening was meaningful to me—my PTSD had been triggered in the midst of the Kavanaugh hearings, and I had many moments of suffocation during those weeks, many minutes of reliving my own trauma and wondering how to draw near to a God who promises rest and restoration.

I arrived at this sacred place, safe and encouraged to share. I didn’t share much; I simply said, “In a culture that doesn’t often honor the feminine, and after experiencing assault that occurred because of the feminine, I need a place where the feminine is honored.” As a community, we worked our bodies as we worked our minds and hearts through the story of Jesus and the bleeding woman. I slowly came to remember the gospel as it relates to those of us who have been hurt and abused and thrown out—we matter to Jesus. He notices us even when the rest of our society has decided we aren’t worth knowing. Through his love, Jesus thinks we are worth healing; that healing won’t be complete until we are in his presence, but he has given us hope that it will happen. And in that hope, we can find joy. We can choose joy.

I left that evening simultaneously feeling relieved and unburdened but full—I was finally able to express my heart and experience, and in doing so, engage the gospel in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to without the support and encouragement of my yoga community. Tears came, breathing was practiced, hope was restored, joy was found.

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
— Psalm 30:5b

Has church been a safe place of Truth telling for you? Where have you encountered the gospel in a community setting? How can you encourage your church or community to be a place that people encounter the gospel and God’s relentless love?