In this series, I’m examining several ingredients that are necessary for a group of people to live as community. However, I’m not interested in just any type of community. Instead, I’m interested in determining some “ingredients” necessary for believers to live together as community in the way that the church is described in the New Testament. (See my introductory post here.)
The first necessary ingredient is Jesus. Yes, I know, that sounds obvious, right. But, we cannot take this for granted.
Apart from Jesus Christ, there is not community (i.e., church community). Apart from Jesus Christ, there is no church.
Without Jesus, there can be meetings, organization, leadership, education, programs, singing, good works, community care, etc. But, without Jesus, there will never be community as brothers and sisters like we read about in Scripture.
In fact, if you remember from my introductory post, a community is a group of people that have something in common. For a church community (like what is described in Scripture) the common factor is Jesus Christ. He is not just an ingredient for church community; he is THE main and most important ingredient.
There are communities that are formed around location, interests, politics, hobbies, sports, entertainment, etc. A community can have almost anything in common. That common factor is the basis on which the people join together and relate.
For the church living in community (as described in the NT), that common factor is Jesus Christ.
I am not talking about a particular teaching about Jesus Christ, or an historical account of Jesus Christ. Instead, I am talking about the person of Jesus Christ, who according to Scripture is alive and present and powerfully working in those whom he has redeemed and reconciled to God.
If community were actually a recipe, then Jesus would be the beef in the meatloaf. He would be the chicken in the chicken parmigiana. He would be the pork in the barbecue. Without the meat, chicken, or pork, the dishes that I listed would not work. There would be no meatloaf without the beef, no chicken parmigiana without the chicken, and no barbecue without the pork.
The same is true for church community. Without Jesus, community as described in the New Testament is possible.
Read this carefully: Without Jesus, community IS possible, but NOT the community as described by the New Testament authors when they wrote about the church.