Let’s Read: Why Should We Love the Local Church—Living Beautifully
By Davy Ellison
We are continually assaulted with all manner of products that will help us live beautifully. Whether it is the healthiest food, the most profitable exercise, radiant holiday destinations, transformative make-up, or the latest spiritual fad, we are consistently being offered up things that promise to help us live beautifully.
As Dustin Benge draws his book to a close, he too points to some things that will help us live beautifully. There are four that he highlights and embracing them will ensure that Christians live beautifully in an increasingly ugly world.
Observing the Ordinances
Jesus gave his church two ordinances: baptism and communion. These two ordinances, when observed by Christ’s church, help Christians live beautifully. Benge explains that “Baptism is a symbol that points to saving faith; it is not the conveyer of saving grace” (p. 64). Although Christians partake of true baptism only once, each time the church gathers to celebrate baptism we witness the gospel. This gospel reminder helps us live in its light. Christians partake of communion repeatedly and in this participation we witness the gospel once more: “the Lord’s Supper causes believers to reflect back to when their sins were atoned for by God’s spotless Lamb while also looking forward to the great marriage supper of the Lamb” (p. 65). Regularly observing these ordinances helps us live beautifully.
Walking in the Light
More is expected of Christians, however, than merely turning up at church on a Sunday to observe the ordinances. We are also to walk in the light. This term “walking,” argues Benge, “is shorthand for practical Christian living—living out what has been planted within” (p. 70). The entirety of our lives then must be the outworking of the faith within. This is a high and difficult calling, but mercifully the Spirit “empowers his people to do all these things” (p. 72). While this can never be executed perfectly, living out our faith equates to living beautifully.
Rejoicing While Persecuted
Observing the ordinances and walking in the light will mark us out. Others will note our beauty. And this will spell danger. Jesus did not sugar-coat it for us: “the world hates you” (John 15:18). There is no escaping the reality that we will face hardship now; more, persecution—sought out as targets specifically for holding to Scripture. Yet, this hardship now will be significantly diluted as we remember that “being with Jesus in glory will far more than reward us for any suffering we have faced in this life” (p. 77). Hardship now, glory hereafter. This is how we rejoice while persecuted, and in doing so live beautifully.
Embodying the “One Anothers”
Finally, Benge encourages us to embody the “one anothers” found in the New Testament. He does so, however, by clarifying that these “passages are not suggestions for a successful life but commands for right Christian living” (p. 81). By obeying these commands of God we foster a familial bond that exists even if it is not always experienced. The importance of the “one anothers” is in their ability to galvanise unity. Benge writes: “Unity is critical because it fosters maturity, doctrinal stability, discernment, a loving vocabulary, Christlike growth, church-wide equipping, and spiritual building” (p. 83). In short, embodying the “one anothers” is living beautifully.
If we are to live beautifully we must observe the ordinances, walk in the light, rejoice while persecuted and embody the “one anothers”. And we must do so together as the church, because:
The church is about people being rescued, redeemed, and renewed. The church is about savoring, rejoicing, and service. The church is about proclaiming, enduring, and walking. The church is about being the bride adorned, beautiful, and lovely. (p. 86)
- Examine your life in light of the four areas outlined above. In which areas do you need more gospel-fuelled diligence?
- Pick two “one another” passages and actively seek to embody them in your interactions with fellow church members over the next few months.
- Pray now for your local church, asking God to aid you all in living beautifully by the power of his Spirit.