In this 3rd week of rethinking church we are looking at The church as a community. The word community itself tells us something about the church. It is a common unity.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common…” Acts 2:44
Throughout the scriptures we find the community of God’s people who together share their faith and lives in common. The description God most often gives to this community of believer and followers is family.
“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,” Exodus 4:22
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26
Israel was to God as a son and He to them as their Father. The Father provides for His children. From Genesis to Revelation God is a Father to those who receive His Fatherhood through a relationship with His Son, Jesus.
The New Testament uses family as well as a host of familial terms to describe the church. Paul’s use of brother (brethren) is found 130 times in his writings to the church. In Ephesians 2:19 Pail says we are “members of God’s household.” Where else do we find a more common union than in family.
Now let me say 2 things about family because living as family is not always easy, in fact, it is often messy. First, the family is to love one another.In John 13:34-35, Jesus tells us we are to love one another and that this love is what distinguishes us as His. Additionally He tells us that abiding in relationship with Him, His joy would be in us and our joy would be full and complete. (John 15:11-13) Paul tells us this love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8) This is not to say we won’t have moments when the flesh gets the best of us or we don’t blow it, but it means with God’s help we work it out through love. Love prevails. Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
How often do believers, members of God’s household bail out on relationship with each other. How often do we give in to self and not work things out according to the way the Father has loved us. The church community should be a model of love.
Secondly, the church community spends time with one another. Acts 2:42-46 is a picture of people loving each other and spending time with each other. The knew each other because they invested in each other beyond the surface religious rituals of the day. The life of Christ stirred a deep desire for community and a willingness to be vulnerable with each other.
How many of you are experiencing this with your church family? Don’t blame it on your church or spiritual leadership, the onus is on you to risk being intimately known in order to be loved. How can this happen when the extent of our risk is when the minister says to turn around and shake the hands of 3 people around you on Sunday? Do you spend time with your church family outside scheduled meetings? It takes more than 1 to 2 hours in our safe non-participatory Sunday Services. You cannot program relationships. It takes personal initiative and vulnerability. It takes time.
Here is a list that describes the Church Community, Does yours look like this? What are you doing about it?
Loving one another (John 13:34)
Forgiving one another (Ephesians 4:32)
Accepting one another (Romans 15:7)
Bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2)
Being devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
Honoring one another above ourselves (Romans 12:10)
Greeting one another (2 Corinthians 13:12)
Being hospitable to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
Being kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
Sharing with one another (Hebrews 13:16)
Serving one another (Galatians 5:13)
Carrying one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
Building up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Encouraging one another daily (Hebrews 3:13)
Comforting one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Stimulating one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
Instructing one another (Romans 15:14)
Admonishingone another (Colossians 3:16)
Praying for one another (James 5:16)
Confessing your sins to one another (James 5:16)
Being of the same mind toward one another (Romans 12:16)
Submitting to one another (Ephesians5:21)
Is there anything we need to change about how we are living in community as the church family?
What do you need to change?
What keeps our church from modeling this kind of community?
What do you think?