Sermon Recap: New Community (Acts 15:1-22)

This is a recap of the latest sermon in our new series: Grace Changes Everything. 

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The church is a community of people called by Christ to reflect the heavenly reality that the gospel has initiated. It is where “there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11). Grace changes everything, and brings us into a new community. 

Deep Separation

When Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, separation was introduced into the world—separation from God and each other. They hid, they blamed, and they dressed themselves so they wouldn’t be seen and fully known by each other. As their children, deep separation is a challenge the early church faced (Acts 15:1-5). So do we.

New Community

The church is the community ordained by God to bring the spiritual truth of the gospel into concrete reality. It is a new community that works through distinctions, that embraces difference, and brings individuals into a family that walks in unity, with confident humility, knowing the glory of our identity in Christ and the deep flaws that remain in all of us.

Messy Together

To follow Jesus, we have to walk toward each other. We have to lean into the mess. We have to put ourselves in situations with each other where we might have to ask for forgiveness, and where we might have to extend that same forgiveness to others. It wasn’t easy for the early church; it won’t be easy for us. But grace changes us and leads us to be messy together for the glory of Jesus. 

Reflection & Application Questions

  1. Where do you see a tendency towards separation/withdrawal from others in your life?
  2. How would you describe yourself in each of the following categories: 1) culture, 2) church-background, 3) ethnicity, 4) economic status , and 5) social status? What differences make it difficult for you to be messy together with others?
  3. Why is togetherness a necessary implication of the gospel? How did this play out in Acts 15?
  4. Why is togetherness messy? What relationships in the church are messy for you?
  5. What is one concrete step you can take to pursue being messy together with others? How will you ensure that you take that step?