Because Coming Together Truly Makes a Difference!
We are created for community. We are redeemed for community. We are transformed in community. There is a sense of belonging we all have which is fulfilled through community. Community is God’s desire for us and a sign of a mature faith because when we grow in relationship with others we are growing in relationship with Him. (Hebrews 10:24-25) When God created Adam, He said it is not good for man to be alone. So He created Eve and that was the first community. Imagine what a community of 7.4 billion people can do.
Community is fun. Psalm 133 ponders how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live in unity. Community attracts the Holy Spirit. He is present whenever believers gather together.. Community fosters love better together than alone, community is life giving. (Romans 12:4-5)
The early church clearly lived in community. The Bible is emphatic that living in community with other believers is irreplaceable in the Christian life. To avoid thinking about community simply because we misunderstand it is depriving us of one of God’s greatest gifts.
The practice of Christian community, quite simply, makes the gospel a lived reality.
Living in the community does this by embodying Christ’s continuing presence on earth. When my brothers and sisters love and accept me, I feel Christ’s love, too. When I confess my sin and they forgive me, I know that God forgives me, too. When they pray for my brokenness, I know that they are sharing in the healing work of Jesus. In our dog-eat-dog, enemies-with their teeth-bared world, we feel the crush of hostility and of our own failures. To have our Christian community surround us with compassion and encouragement lightens our loads, strengthens us, and gives us the courage to keep on trying.
Community is where we learn how to strip away our self-interest in order to serve others. It is here that we learn to share the goods and spiritual gifts that God has given us. It is also here that we learn to be served, though we are sometimes prideful and reluctant like Peter, who balked at Jesus washing his feet (Jn. 13:2-10). Sometimes we are the washers and sometimes the washees, but in many ordinary ways we can learn what submission and service mean.
Community is accountability. When I submit to the guidance and scrutiny of my brothers and sisters, it forces me to grow and to be accountable to the commitments I make.
Ignoring this powerful element is one of the main reasons many small groups never really experience Christian community. Such accountability doesn't need to have overtones of checking up and scolding. It works, instead, to encourage us and help us in our growth and commitments. The community gives us a place to air our growth and our struggles, our successes and failures. It simply gives us a way of guiding each other ever more fully in the ways of Christ.
The lived reality of community—in whatever form it takes—holds great promise both for the Christian fellowship itself and for the world at large. For Christians it provides a place where together we can change and grow strong in following Jesus. For the world the life of the Christian community broadcasts the good news and mediates God’s love to those who so desperately seek it.
Communities are Ambassadors of God’s love. They are the laboratory in which we learn to rely on God’s Grace and experience the Gospel’s transforming power. Each community with its particular mission is a guerrilla unit establishing a beachhead for God’s peaceable Kingdom in a hostile world. And from those outposts God’s love flows freely. The main concern in our community should be for the poor and marginalized and must be motivated by love for the whole person as a child of God. It then follows that authentic human development must be directed toward the whole person in every dimension. Consequently, the potential for such development is greatest when it is planned and directed in a local community setting, among those who know the nature and causes of the problems in question and can act most effectively to craft personalized solutions that will actually work.
In conclusion: As we have stated and firmly believe, serving in community naturally creates a wholeness you cannot experience otherwise. This wholeness satisfies our deep human need for belonging and produces peace and joy that energizes and blesses us. We in-turn can utilize this energy to transform our world and lift up the least of these.
To learn more about the benefits of serving in community click below for the entire transcripts from which we derived this piece.