Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

God's People

Tonight, we will begin our fall session of our missional community. In the spring, we conducted a pilot/test group. We found the rhythm of the schedule suitable and helpful for discipleship at First Baptist. In short, we meet on the first week of the month as a large group (30-50) for a meal and family worship. On the second week of the month, Life Groups meet in homes (8-12). During the third week of the month, we gather as a large group (30-50) to serve our community. This month, we will pick up trash in the downtown Muncie area. On the fourth week of the month, we are once again in homes (Life Groups 8-12).

As we worship this evening, we will focus on 1 Peter 2:9-10. We touched on this passage Sunday in our discussion of living holy lives (Ephesians 5). There are implications for our functioning as a discerning people.

Peter writes,

(1 Peter 2:9–10 NIV) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

The first part of this text determines our posture as God’s people. Notice that we are chosen by God and made holy by God. It is important to remember this. We did not invent or organize our community. God established us as His people. We belong to Him. As we make decisions and choose direction, we must remember that we are God’s. Because He established us, He will be faithful to lead us. Sometimes we will be surprised and challenged by God’s leading. All that to say, we are not in charge, God is.

Secondly, the purpose our establishment as a people is to proclaim God’s praises. Again, we are gathered because of what God has accomplished in and through us. He brought us out of darkness and into his wonderful light. This image of transformation should always be in the forefront of our minds. As we discern God’s leading, we must continually remind ourselves that we were rescued. Too often, we approach decisions in the church in a posture of entitlement. Considering our rescue, our redemption changes our stance.

Peter continues to unpack God’s work in us in verse 10. At one time, we were disconnected from God and each other. But now we have been formed as a people, God’s people. And as the people of God, we have received God’s mercy. Again, this understanding that we are God’s people is central to our discerning. We are not chosen individuals made holy for God; we are a people, a community, a nation. We must learn to function in community, making decisions in community.

We are greatly influenced by our American culture. Our individual freedoms and privileges have been accentuated to the detriment of our shared sense of community. As we discern, we are required to set aside our individual preferences for the greater good of the community. We must remind ourselves of this identity.

1 Peter 2:9-10 has wonderful implications for the discerning church. May we learn to live as God’s people, continually discerning His calling in the life of our community.