Summer LINK Raleigh: Life Together

Summer LINK Raleigh: Life Together

While in prison, Paul prays a beautiful prayer in Philippians 1: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (vs. 3-5). Summer LINK Raleigh officially began at Open Door Church this past Tuesday, May 28th with Paul Whitfield (Summer LINK Raleigh Director) teaching us from this passage. Paul asked the question, “What does this partnership in the gospel look like for us?” The students shared their excitement about partnering together for the sake of the gospel through Summer LINK. 
In addition to studying the book of Philippians during Summer LINK Raleigh, all Summer LINK students are reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together. Here are a few of the truths the Lord’s been showing me about Christian community as I’ve been reflecting on Life Together and Philippians:
1) Christian community is a privilege 
Bonhoeffer writes, “It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God’s Word and sacrament. Not all Christians receive this blessing. The imprisoned, the sick, the scattered lonely, the proclaimers of the Gospel in heathen lands stand alone” (18). It is clear in the book of Philippians that Paul experienced deep Christian community and fellowship with the saints at Philippi and as he is separated from them in prison he “yearns” for them “with the affection that is in Christ Jesus” (1:8). How quick am I to take Christian community for granted! What a beautiful truth that I have the great privilege of walking in fellowship with other believers during Summer LINK and throughout my life!
2) Christian community only happens through Jesus
This may seem obvious to you, and yet I think it is a profound truth. Because of the blood of Jesus, we are united with our fellow believers for eternity! God chooses to put His Word into the mouths of men so that they may speak it to one another. We need other believers to be “bearers and proclaimers of the divine word of salvation” (23).  Philippians 1:6 has long been a favorite verse of mine: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” As we discussed this verse, I saw it in a new light on Tuesday. I have always applied that verse only to my own spiritual growth. And yet, Paul is actually referring to the Philippians as a people, as a community. So, this means that other believers are a necessary part of God completing his work within us!
3) Christian community is an imperfect reality
If you’re anything like me, there are times when Christian community does not look the way you imagine it could or should. In a sense, it’s good to always desire to grow and to have deeper community. Yet in another sense, we may often face disappointment with community because we have an unrealistic picture in our minds of what it should look like (or a “wish dream” as Bonhoeffer calls it). Every “human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive” (27). As we sin and are sinned against, it is easy to become disillusioned with Christian community. And yet, sinning and being sinned against is an opportunity to respond in thankfulness that not only we, but our brother/sister has been forgiven by Christ’s blood. 

4) The goal of Christian community is the Great Commission
Bonhoeffer writes, “the goal of all Christian community” is believers “meeting one another as bringers of the message of salvation” (23). Paul describes his brothers and sisters at Philippi as partners with him in the gospel. It is as we go into the world with the gospel and show the lost a picture of true community that the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 will be realized and God’s kingdom advanced. I pray that as Summer LINK students experience community, they will be driven to penetrate the lostness that surrounds them with the gospel in Clemson, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Raleigh, Boston, Seattle, India, and Honduras.
As we begin Summer LINK Raleigh, here are a few specific ways you can be praying:
1) Please pray for deep community and fellowship among the Summer LINK Raleigh team.
2) Pray for the students to be bold with the gospel as most of them work part-time jobs. In addition, please pray for our outreaches into local neighborhoods and campuses.
3) Pray that we would be a blessing to Open Door church and that we would serve the church and their staff well.

Here’s a few pictures from our first social this past week…

Paul, the grill master!
We finished the night off with a fun game of fishbowl!

By Jenna Wayment