Gospel Culture

By Ps Dev Menon

Romans 15:7   Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

              Last week I had the privilege of attending a conference organised for full-time ministry workers. The keynote speaker was Ray Ortlund, founding pastor Immanuel Church Nashville, an Emeritus Council member of the Gospel Coalition and a contributor to the ESV Study Bible[1].

              Ray was sharing that he believes very strongly in the patient preaching and teaching of God’s Word – as the means to transform lives to conform to the image of Christ. Yet he also shared that it is not only teaching good doctrine, but the embodying of those doctrines that truly impacts us. Believers, when they gather, should embody a ‘gospel culture’[2].

              What he meant by that, is whenever the saints gather in person, there should be this air of God’s grace, such that people “let their guard down” and are able to be sinners in God’s presence. In other words, the gathering of the saints creates a #getreal environment: a place where we are welcomed through the blood of Christ, free to share our sins without judgment or condemnation. Free to share sins which are directed into the loving arms of Jesus for forgiveness.

              As I reflected on Ray’s sermons, it made me think about the X3A support group. A few of us still gather weekly – and when we gather, there is no judgement, no condemnation, everyone is welcome and free to share the darkest things of our lives – not just sexual issues, but everything that causes us to feel guilt, shame, stress or frustration (these are triggers that often lead to addictions). After sharing, the brothers pray for one another, taking those sins and struggles to God, to receive His mercy, grace and help to live just one more day.  

              While I am grateful for the X3A group and my 321s, I further reflected – why doesn’t this happen every time the saints gather? Shouldn’t it happen every time the saints gather? Not just in specialised groups, but even at the Sunday services? If embodying the Word (as we have been studying in Ephesians) is so critical to transformed lives, then shouldn’t it happen at all our meetings, especially our main meetings? Is it really ok to relegate #getreal interactions to something ‘on the side’?

              If gospel culture is derived from God’s Word and foundational to Church, then we need to seriously be thinking how to make it part of every single gathering of the body. Each time the saints gather we need to: #getdeep in God’s Word, #getreal with one another & #getlost for the Kingdom.

[1] He also authored many books, the most recent being: The Death of Porn: Men of Integrity Building a World of Nobility, Crossway, 2021

[2] Check out his podcast with Sam Allberry: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/youre-not-crazy/ 

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