“Christians can be grouped into two categories—marbles and grapes. Marbles are ‘single units that don’t affect each other except in collision.’ Grapes, on the other hand, mingle juices: each one is a ‘part of the fragrance’ of the church body. The early Christians didn’t bounce around like loose marbles, ricocheting in all directions. Picture them as a cluster of ripe grapes, squeezed together by persecution, bleeding and mingling into one another. Fellowship and worship, then, is genuine Christianity freely shared among God’s family members. It’s sad to think of how many Christians today are missing that kind of closeness. Sermons and songs, while uplifting and necessary, provide only part of a vital church encounter. We need involvement with others too. If we roll in and out of church each week without acquiring a few grape juice stains, we really haven’t tasted the sweet wine of fellowship.”
We’re really at a pivotal moment in our church. I am beginning my 10th year as a pastor this May. I spent the first 2 years of that getting a plant team together and the last 7 publicly launched. So obviously I have been thinking about all that God has done among us, what God is doing among us right now, and what the future is going to be. And at the beginning of this year, knowing the rate of growth, the fast pace of our church these days. Decisions need to be made quickly yet done well. In our day the big don’t eat the small, the fast eat the slow. And that’s fine, I’m committed to that leadership need. But I really felt God pressing in on me and I am feeling it even more acutely these days, that what we need over the next few months, what I need is a commitment to deep relationships, personal involvement in one another’s lives, and pastoring one another’s souls in the body of Christ. My hope for us over the next several weeks is for Jesus to make us vulnerable with one another. Not rationalizing sin under the guise of authenticity. No, but instead quick to repent to one another. Quick to affirm and encourage one another. Not afraid to share our failures and our dreams and hopes and suffering. No need to pretend or fake or be defensive. Just be who we really are. Through this sermon series, I pray that if you aren’t pursuing relationships that you will begin to. If you’re in a gospel community, but putting up walls, that they’ll come down. That each of us will know a depth of intimacy as the people of God, that God intends.