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Gospel Culture in a Nutshell

By Michael Roop

Ever wonder why God doesn’t just whisk Christians away to heaven the moment they convert? I have plenty of days where I wish He would.

The short answer is, God leaves us to proclaim the gospel so that the full number of His chosen people will be saved. And that is true! But there’s another part to the answer, and it’s found in the fact that Jesus organized His followers into local communities called “churches.”

It would appear, in God’s providence and design, that simple words would not be the only means of advancing the gospel to the ends of the earth. When the message of the gospel is wed to the conduct of Jesus’ followers, the true power is on display.

Jesus tells His disciples that our love for one another will prove us to be His followers (John 13:31-35) and that our unity will prove His claim to be the Son of God (John 17:20-21). Paul urges us to maintain the unity that is ours in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-3), and the rest of the New Testament includes over 40 commands related to how we ought to treat one another in our local church communities.

One of those commands is found toward the end of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome: “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (15:7).  A culture that welcomes the outsider reflects the costly welcome we received from Christ while we were outsiders — strangers to the promise and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12).

When our obedience to these commands becomes common in our churches, we create what one pastor calls “gospel culture.” More than just a group of faithful individuals, our churches take on a whole new character and personality that is in step with the truth of the gospel. Our treatment of one another reflects how we have been treated by Christ.

Who knew the simple act of greeting a newcomer could have such gospel power?
In a world of confusing and often misguided church metrics — usually around attendance and giving — one of the primary things I watch is the length of time it takes for the worship center to clear out after a Sunday worship service. In fact, one of the reasons we don’t do a greeting time during the service is so that people will enjoy a more open-ended time to connect with others after the service. More time means better and deeper connections!

As I write this letter, I feel a lot like the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonian church: “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you…for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more…”

I know I’m biased, but I think this is one of Creekside’s strengths. So let me encourage you to press in. Take the time this Sunday to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you. And as you do, you’ll be glorifying our God.

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