The Gospel is all about relationships. It tells us to follow God, and “God is love” (I John 4:8). Love is a relational word; God is a relational God. His law, the transcript of His character, consists of only two commands: to love Him, and to love others as ourselves. “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
What does that mean? Could it be that the Gospel first demands, and then enables, us to live in authentic community? Of course, this would be first with God. But Adam in Eden was still unsatisfied, and God summarized the situation as “not good.” In other words, communion with God in a perfect world, without intimate fellowship with other humans, would leave us incomplete.
It seems easy to live in vulnerable community with God, at least in theory. He knows my heart, and I can pour out my soul to Him in prayer. I trust His love (again, at least in theory). He knows me deeply and accepts me the way I am.
But Jesus prayed “that they may be one, even as We are One” (John 17:22). He prayed this over an assortment of self-centered men vying for top position, discouragingly selfish despite just finishing the greatest 3 ½ year mission trip ever. When His prayer was answered less than two months later, the Holy Spirit was poured out on these same men because they were all “with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).
How powerful! The process of preparation for the Holy Spirit’s outpouring—moving from seeking the highest place, to humbly making things right with each other— tells me that authentic community is a crucial preparation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus both commands and enables us to live in vulnerable community with other followers of Him. He wants us to build deep relationships with other believers. Far from crippling us in our fulfillment of the Gospel Commission, investing in such deep relationships with a few will empower us to share the Gospel with the many. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).