A couple of weeks ago, I read a great post by Fred at “On the Journey” called “Community: Sunday at 10:30.” If you’ve read this blog for very long (probably even for a short time), then you know that community in Christ is very important to me.
I believe that when God saves us, he immediately includes us in his family and we are immediately connected to and responsible for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of our lives. This “community” is not one of our own making; it is built by God through his Spirit. We do not get to pick and choose who are part of that community. As I wrote once, when we accept Jesus, we automatically get everyone else at his table.
However, it takes work – yes, real work – to live in community with one another. Now, we say that work consists of yielding to or submitting to the Holy Spirit in our lives, and that would be correct. It is still work, though.
Of course, we can also try to build community that is not based on our shared identity in Jesus Christ. There are many kinds of communities like this. In his post, Fred wrote about several of those communities. Then he wrote this:
I believe the church is different. Community is something that is not based on personal preferences, on a charismatic individual, on shared experiences. In the church, the only kind of community that matters must be based on the Gospel and our shared identity in Christ. The community that God wants is a community that lives life together, learning together to follow Jesus and love our brothers and sisters. In order to do this we must be together more than one day a week. Community needs time and contact to develop. The disciples were with Jesus 24/7 for three years. The first Christians met daily, going from house to house. I know things are different in the 21st century, but we still need time with each other often. We can not do this without learning from each other on a consistent basis.
There is much to encourage us and challenge us in that short paragraph. Yes, it takes time, patience, grace, forgiveness, etc. to see community – even community in Christ – grow and flourish. And, it does take the humility necessary to “learn from each other on a consistent basis.”
But, when you read that, you may be disheartened because you are part of a group who only meets once a week in a pre-planned, scheduled gathering (often called a “worship service”). Does this mean that community in Christ is impossible for you? Not at all.
This is how Fred ends his post:
If you are part of a church body that meets in a building at a particular time on a particular day and gathers as friends and family at various times throughout the week, good for you. If not, why not begin?
Good question, Fred. Why not?