This exhortation was given at King’s Cross Church (Moscow, ID) on November 6, AD 2022.
One mark of God’s saving work in our lives is our love for His people, our care for one another in this church.
We see this teaching in John 13, where Jesus says that all people will know that we are His disciples if we have love for one another (13:35). The Apostle John then picks up this focus on love againin his own letters, writing that “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers” (1 Jn. 3:14).
There is a tradition regarding John which says that when he was extremely old in age and living in Ephesus, the men in the church had to carry him into the gatherings. At this point he could barely speak, but each gathering he managed to say these words — “Little children, love one another.” The repetition of this simple command eventually annoyed some in the church, and so they asked him, “Teacher, why do you always say this?” And he replied with a line worthy of John: “Because it is the Lord’s commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient.”
In an ideal church, there would be vibrant life and community in the “parish.” By this we mean that fellow church members would see each other during the week as they fulfill their vocations in life. Of course, the extent of this connectedness is somewhat tied to the size of your city, the distance members travel to the church building, and so on. But even in larger cities, strategies can be used to establish true parish life, such as intentional community or “parish” groups, shared Christian education, and so on.
Much of what goes on in the parish is not led or organized by church leadership. The pastor and elders are not to be making business decisions for the mechanic in their church or telling people where to shop. The church does have an indirect influence on parish life though, through Word and sacrament, teaching and discipleship. But parish life itself is an organic outworking of the church community, a community that is indeed tied together by Lord’s Day worship. As Pastor Douglas Wilson has written, “The church is not the parish, and the parish is not the church. At the same time, the church thrives at the center of the parish, informing and discipling those who live their lives in the parish…”