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Relationships, Culture and Sanctificationby Duane Mabee on April 21, 2022
A critical contributor to our growth in Christlikeness is our relationships. The New Testament teaches that sanctification cannot occur in isolation. It only happens in the context of relationships within the body of Christ. Key facets of sanctification can only be developed and demonstrated through face-to-face, in-depth relationships. That makes the kind of community we develop at North River extremely important. Our culture determines the quality of the relationships we build here.
To borrow from Dr. Mick Noel, our district superintendent, “culture” can be defined as what we allow to grow around us. Others have said culture develops from what we pursue and what we tolerate. If we intentionally cultivate Biblical attitudes and practices, we will grow a Christlike culture. If we allow un-biblical attitudes and practices to filter in unchallenged, we will grow a culture that leads people away from Christ. The end result will be tragic.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, show the impact of what we allow and tolerate. Each time Christ condemns something in one of the churches, it is something that grew out of what they allowed to go unchallenged in their church. The Ephesian church allowed a cold detachment to Christ to grow in their midst. The church at Pergamum turned a blind eye to the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Thyatira tolerated “that woman Jezebel” who encouraged sexual immorality. Sardis allowed people to pretend they were spiritually alive when they weren’t, and Laodicea allowed a spiritual complacency and pride to develop. In each case, Christ promised to take away the life and vitality of the church if they didn’t repent.
What we allow and tolerate in our church community will determine the spiritual health and vitality of our church and our relationships. Likewise, what we intentionally pursue will determine who we become.
Because relationships and culture are so important to our spiritual progress, we are going to spend several weeks looking at the “one another” commands in the New Testament. The way I have grouped them, I find 27 specific commands. We won’t look at all of them, but a fruitful study for you would be to look up the phrases “each other” and “one another” in the New Testament to see what the Bible requires of our relationships.
The culture we allow to exist at North River will determine the quality of our relationships, which will determine the level of our sanctification. What we pursue and what we allow to grow unchecked determines what our culture becomes.