Why is it difficult to move from instruction to application? Why does it seem as though there's a BIG GAP between hearing God's Word and doing God's Word?
In a previous post, I argued that meditation is the missing link between instruction and application. I still support that claim because I see it in Scripture (Joshua 1:8) and have experienced it in my own life. The times that I have stopped to really chew on what I’ve read and put myself in the shoes of the one I’m reading about, I have come away with both a better understanding of the passage and a greater desire to live it out.
However, there is another very significant, yet often neglected, means of moving from the hearing of God's Word to the doing of God's Word--namely, community.
Community helps to fill the gap between instruction and application. In the context of community the content of the gospel can be talked about and lived out. Through mutual encouragement and cross-centered accountability people can experience a greater desire for life change and a realization that they're not alone in the process. In short, relationships provide an effective environment for "doing the truth."
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, authors of the book, Total Church, take it one step further when they say,
Truth cannot be taught effectively outside of close relationships. The reason is that truth is not primarily formal; it is dynamic. The truth of the gospel becomes compelling as we see it transforming lives in the rub of daily, messy relationships.
I agree. As we share our lives together, the truth can also come alive. The gap between instruction and application lessens as we live as a community on mission together.
I believe this is one of the biggest challenges facing the church today, namely, will we emphasize the importance of community without deemphasizing the truth of the gospel? Will we do "life together" so that we can grow more like Christ and lead others to Christ? And will we take an honest look at the BIG GAP and seek ways to fill it with the fuel of the gospel and community?