Not quite halfway through the 31-day writing challenge and it has proved to be an enlightening time as I have sought to understand just a small morsel of what it means to have joy in the middle of the sanctification process. So much of sanctification requires removal of the flesh and while there is joy in the suffering, it is always refreshing to know we are not alone.
Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possession and property and distribute the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47
The early church encouraged one another. They shared with one another. They were in community as they were being refined to resemble more of Christ to the nation around them. God in His wisdom chose to have part of the sanctification process occur in community. It was not limited to individuals but to His body at large. I first encountered this concept in the book Holiness in the Gospels by Kent Brower. Read his words regarding discipleship and sanctification.
The Gospels picture individuals responding to Jesus’ invitation, but it is always an invitation to join a people. Discipleship is never an individual calling. Nor are disciples the focal point; Jesus is. Therefore, disciples do not determine the parameters of the people of God. Rather, the determining criterion for discipleship is simply being a part of His people, in relationship to Jesus, the Holy One of God. Christian holiness is thus a social, not an individual, phenomenon.
The essence of the life of this community is love made possible through the indwelling of the Spirit. It is expressed in participation in the loving life of the community and in the loving mission of God to the world. This kind of love is the whole of the Torah in its divine intention and the fulfillment of all God’s purposes.
By responding to the call to join the new people of God, disciples are transformed by being in relationship with the Holy One. They are sanctified in this relationship to Jesus who himself has been sanctified for God’s mission, that is, set apart and sent on mission (130-131).
Sometimes we forget that when we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of our life we not only became His child but we also immediately received multiple brothers and sisters. Siblings that we must learn how to love and live out the house rules given by our Father God. As the Father instructs each of His children and we begin to love our Father as well as those around us, God’s love will begin to be reflected in us and many will be brought into His house for eternity.
Oh Father God, sanctify your children. As we commune with you, may we learn how to commune with one another so that the world may see we are Your disciples by our love for one another. May the joy we share together bring many into Your kingdom.