So if Christian community is the family of God, those followers of Jesus who can rightly call one another brother and sister, where did this community come from? How is it formed? What is its source?
I often hear pastors and Christian leaders talk about “building community”. We see many problems in our society, so we feel compelled to confront the problems we see. Marriages being destroyed, children lacking fathers, cities being torn apart by violence and corruption. We want to change these things, and rightly so. However, we often turn to the world’s solutions to address problems that can only be solved by the power and hand of God. Church leaders often seem more interested in what the business world has to say instead of God’s wisdom. They think, “My church is struggling. People aren’t coming to our meetings. They aren’t working in our ministries. They aren’t giving money to our budget. What are we going to do?” So the world says, “If your organization is failing, you must not be as efficient as the church down the street. You need a better sign out front and better advertising. You need fancier chairs with big cushions so people don’t get uncomfortable during your long sermons. If people won’t work in your ministries, you need to make them easier and more exciting. If people won’t give, you need to talk more about money and start a giving campaign.” And on and on.
We need to accept a harsh reality. We cannot manufacture authentic Christian community like something made in a factory. So often, our projects end up looking like just another Tower of Babel. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Sound familiar? But that is not how Christian community is formed.
ahhh… what a breath of fresh air. We are the family of God. God makes us family, and creates community. What is our responsibility? Live in the community that God has already created.
Of course, this is not easy – not only because of our own sin and selfishness. But, there are other people involved too. Community would be so easy if it were not for other people.
(UPDATE: Gene has written a related post called “Child Abuse in the Church“.)