Imagine gathering with one of our Gospel Communities this week. Think about what you might see happening from a human perspective:
You arrive, a little late and flustered, but you are warmly greeted by a few others who got there first. They ask you how your week went, about your recent appointment you had told them about, and about your family event that you had this past weekend. You share and ask for some updates about all of their lives.
Your leader interrupts your chatter by calling you into the living room. He opens up a passage of scripture, calling your attention to an attribute of God described in that passage. He directs you and the rest of the group to lift up short prayers of praise to God, and you are able to add in a sentence or two. You don't feel like its very profound (in fact it's a little uncomfortable praying after the long day you've had), but the prayer is from your heart.
You then start discussing this past Sunday's sermon. To be honest, you've thought little about it since Sunday morning, but you are grateful for the reminder of how the Spirit was convicting you that day. You answer a few questions and try to faithfully encourage the others with the gospel in what little way you feel you can. You commit your heart afresh to dwell on these truths and feel more equipped in how they specifically apply to your life.
Then the men move to another room, and the women stay in the living room for what your leader calls "Mutual Ministry Time," and you are grateful for a smaller group where you can get a little more personal with some things in which the Lord has been calling you to grow. You share some dark thoughts that you've been struggling with and ask for prayer. Others share some of their own sin struggles, an you pray for one another carefully and faithfully.
After you finish praying, you have a few more brief conversations (it is LATE after all), and then you head home for the evening. It was a good night, and your heart is full.
That's about the best we can imagine from our Gospel Community gathering. And it is GOOD. But let's expand our imagination to what is happening in the spiritual realm.
You show up late, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places are hoping that it distracts you and leaves you so anxious that you are incapable of focusing on this thing called "Gospel Community" (the very words repulse them). They are dismayed that no one is upset with your lateness, and that their warm welcome puts you at ease.
They cower when the scriptures are opened and shriek when your short prayer of praise lifts to the ears of your Father in heaven. Meanwhile some of the angels around the throne lower the volume on their praise so they can listen in on this ever-so-important worship from one of God's adopted children. Not only that, the Holy Spirit of God himself is present in the room with you all, as real as the person sitting next to you on the couch.
As the discussion turns toward the word of God preached last Sunday, the demons are raising their fists in anger that all their attempts to distract you throughout the week are now being rendered useless. And the Spirit is filling you and carrying your words of encouragement to the heart of the one who needs to hear it.
The dark angelic beings really start to squirm as light is cast on sinful thoughts once kept hidden. Every prayer is like a sword shredding their deceitful schemes. At the same time, the angels of God look on with awe at the One who alone transforms hearts and minds.
As you go home, the cosmic powers over this present darkness reel at the blows that they sustained in this battle, and the Lord delights that his children dwelled together in unity.
What we see when we look at our church experience often appears simple, local, and even small. What is happening is profound, cosmic, and extends to the furthest reaches of the heavens and earth. What do you see when you meet with God's people? What is the greatest thing you imagine the Lord doing in our church?
This Fall, commit to pursuing God's unimaginable vision for his church so that he might receive MUCH GLORY!