Apparently blog posts about Cambridge and hot beverages are becoming a theme.
Today I drove to Cambridge. Again. For a hot drink. Again. But this time it was hot chocolate, and I went with a friend from church. We got our drinks, and chatted as we strolled down Brattle Street. (Aside: L.A. Burdick Chocolate has really good hot chocolate–AND they have almond milk. Double score!)
Well, this one isn’t so much about the drink. It’s more about the conversation that took place as I consumed it.
This friend and I have met for coffee once before. I’ve been to get-togethers at her house. I’ve seen her at church. We don’t really know each other all that well, but one thing that I’ve appreciated about our conversations is that they always seem to circle back to the Gospel. That’s pretty refreshing. In fact, I recall being invited to her house, along with some other people, the very first night I met her–my first time visiting the church I now attend. Here was a group of twenty-somethings, and the conversation naturally centered on the Gospel, the Bible, and how it shapes our views and our lives. I felt a sense of wanting to belong to this group of people, not just because they welcomed me and accepted me, although it certainly did feel nice. I wanted to belong to a group of people whose lives were rooted in the Gospel, whose conversation was colored with it, whose actions and interactions displayed that they were people who had been changed by the grace of God. Because I want to be that kind of person. And I know how easily I emulate those around me, sometimes without even realizing it. So, what better type of community to surround myself with?
Anyway, today, as we walked, we talked about the Gospel. How central it is. To everything. I tell her how I started listening to The Village Church’s sermon series on the Apostle’s Creed. I tell her how in the first sermon, Matt Chandler talks about the difference between knowing versus believing–how believing begets action. We talk about how there is a place for practical preaching (i.e., “Three Steps to Improving Your Marriage”), but sometimes it can be like putting the cart before the horse. Because when you focus on the Gospel, when you have a right view of God and who you are in Him, it transforms how you view and approach everything else in life. I tell her how for so long I lived out of functional unbelief. I said I believed God loved me, and that I was forgiven, but didn’t believe it at a core level. I hid my sin from Him and others. I was weighed down by shame and fear. That I would be found out. And that I wouldn’t be accepted when I was.
And then we talk about Gospel community. How when you live as though you believe the Gospel, you’re free to confess your sin to God and receive His forgiveness. You’re free to confess your faults to others and receive healing. We talk about the healing we’ve both received in opening up to others in our Gospel community about our sins and struggles. How that Gospel community, when it faithfully delivers both grace and truth, loves you where you are without condoning your sin. How either end of the spectrum–all grace, or all truth, are actually neither truly grace nor truth, nor accurate reflections of the Gospel. And how the most hopeful news one can be given is not that it’s okay for me to stay stuck in my sin, but that there is a God who loves me enough to get me unstuck, and a community who wants to help me stay that way.
I am thankful for such a community. For Gospel conversations with friends. For being reminded of its centrality, and challenged to live my life in a way that reflects it.
And for hot chocolate. With almond milk.