Five Celebrations of a Missional Community: Part Three
In Missional Communities, we celebrate Christ in the midst of deep and meaningful connections.
We were made for relationships as beings made in God's image, but sin has brought isolation and separation and struggle and strife. But the Good News is that we have found peace with God and can now live amongst others redemptively. We celebrate these connections as they are an important part of God's recipe for growth in grace: God's Spirit illuminating God's word through God's people making us more like God's Son.
We now turn our attention to the third celebration of a Missional Community, another aspect of our life together that we get excited about: Cultivation.
The Red River Valley is fertile ground where we participate in the feeding of the world. Faithful farmers use their extra hour of daylight during the spring and summer months to break up the soil newly released from the oppression of snow, to plant seeds which bring about vegetation and growth, which they care for and maintain until harvest arrives. They spend hour upon hour in their GPS-guided combines grabbing up as much of what their field produced as possible.
We were made for this. God's intent for the pinnacle of his creation was to partner with him in the stewardship of this wonderful world he had created. Adam was put in in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (Genesis 2:15), and Eve was made to be his faithful helper in this amazing act of grace (Genesis 2:20-25).
Adam was put there, God intentionally wanted him in that place to do certain things. He was to work the garden, to act in the midst of God's creation to labor as God had worked in creation. What God had created, Adam and Eve were made to maintain and help flourish. God made things that make things, and he included us in that process!
But sin brought about a cursing of the ground, where this cultivation and labor would no longer be joyful but be done in pain and by the sweat of our brow (Genesis 3:17-19). Weeds would grow among the fruit, the work would be difficult and though fruit would still be borne, we would no longer be laboring alongside our God in a thriving garden, but instead it became more about surviving a world broken by sin.
Cultivation of God's creation is what we were made for, but sin has made cultivation self-centered and difficult. But, being remade into the image of Christ, we now are involved in the ongoing work of re-creation through our renewed cultivation.
In Christ, cultivation is the use of our giftings and resources for the advancement of the Kingdom of God, and the good of Kingdom citizens. We use the gifts God has given us to build up the body, using gracious words that cultivate Christlikeness, joy, peace, love, and good works (Ephesians 4:29, Hebrews 10:24-25). Our relationships are now opportunities for us to cultivate Christlikeness in one another!
And not only Christlikeness, we help one another to survive this harsh world. We steward our money and resources for the good of others, as we see in the early church (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-37). Our cultivating in our community is still laborious, but it is no longer self-centered. We use what God has given us to help others in their practical needs.
In our outreach, we partner with the Spirit who gives us boldness to sow seeds of the gospel, entrusting him to till the soil of hardened hearts and create good soil where the gospel is planted and bears fruit (see Matthew 13).
In discipleship, we water one another with the word of God, we expose one another to the Son, and where these things are happening a celebration is cultivated!
When you are with your Missional Community, be looking for opportunities to use your gifts and resources for the furthering of the Kingdom and the good of Kingdom citizens.
Do you find it hard to use "your" money when people around you are in a rough spot? Is it intrusive to offer an extra bedroom to a friend in need of a place to stay? Every time you move beyond your comfort zones, using what our God has given you for the good of others and the glory of God, you are cultivating something. You are investing what you have been given in something much bigger than you and your comfort. Cultivation challenges us to look at what we have been given and how it can be used appropriately. Missional Communities are places where you can use what you have to help others survive our exile on this broken planet.
Are you going into your group discussion hoping others are intentional in cultivating Christlikeness in you? Are you excited for the chance to encourage others to cultivate a Christlikeness in them? Discussion is a wonderful place where you can offer up ways in which others can pray for and encourage you, while you seek to draw out those things in others.
Imagine a discussion where you are asking questions of others, they are inquiring about your life, and together, you use words that are not corrupt but rather good for building up, as fits the occassion of the other person, that they may receive grace (Ephesians 4:29). This is where Christ is truly celebrated in community, where family connections lead to Christlike cultivation of life. Using what God has given us, for the good of others and the furthering of his Kingdom.
This is what we are being remade to do, more and more. Lord willing, the Red River Valley will continue to be a place where fruit is cultivated, celebrating Christ in meaningful connections!