The Quest for Community (Part 1)

God’s Spirit is active in the most unlikely places – the poor, broken, and humble places. The power of God is most realized at the point of our vulnerability, our risk-taking, and our letting go. To be vulnerable means to be available to the power of God’s love. Community brings us to the point where God’s love can break in.
(Jim Wallis. The Call to Conversion. San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins. 2005. 131)

Something that so many Christians, myself included, seem to struggle with is this whole issue of community. We can quote the verse that tells us not to stop meeting together, but do we really know what that means? When the author to the Hebrews states,

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 TNIV Emphasis mine)

what is he saying? What does it mean to not give up meeting together?

The Answer

Biblical community is something that we are seriously lacking here in America. When the only time we gather with other believers is Sunday morning, something has gone terribly wrong. And I have every right to say so because I am guilty of this myself.

And we can make excuses, but are any of them legitimate? Really? Is the fact that, for 7 months, I worked on Sunday really an excuse for not seeking opportunities to gather with other believers?

Is the fact that church people can be rude really an excuse not to show them the love of the Jesus who we all claim to serve?

When the writer to the Hebrews tells us not to give up meeting together, he is calling us out on all our excuses. He is saying to us that it doesn’t matter what other people have done, are doing, or will do; what matters is what you do. He points out that some are in the habit of not meeting together, so he tells us, “Don’t be like them! You keep coming together!”

But community is much more than simply getting together for a party. It is a way of life. According to the book of Acts,

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 TNIV Emphasis mine)

The idea of community sweeps in and radically transforms the very way that we live out our daily lives. But this transformation will never happen apart from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is where we will pick up next time.

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One thought on “The Quest for Community (Part 1)

  1. Jerrell says:

    “The biggest challenge for the church at the opening of the twenty-first century is to develop a solution to the discontinuity and fragmentation of the American lifestyle.”
    (Lyle Schaller)

    From the onset of Scripture, we see God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together and in unison. This divine community is seen throughout the rest of Scripture, even until the closing of the last chapter.

    This dive expression is designed by God to serve not only as an expression, but a model imploring us to join in.

    “God’s aim in human history
    is the creation of an inclusive
    community of loving persons,
    with himself included as its primary
    sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.”
    Dallas Willard

    Yet, this has become a significant challenge for Americans, even those who are “Christian.” It is true, Sunday morning “church” experience doesn’t necessiarly equate to a “community” experience. Parts of it may, but community is definately much more than a room full of people all looking the same direction, listening to one person speak. Though there may be a place for such activities, our aim should be to continue to become a “church” that is interactive and engaging, allowing everyone to participate in the journey of transformational learning.

    Much of this, is merely a byproduct of the individualistic culture that we have grew up in. There are some fascinating studies in American Architecture and what happens when we removed the “Front Porch” out of our society.

    Winston Churchill said, “We shape our buildings, and then our buildings shape us.” This seems to be true of our houses, neighborhoods, as well as churches. And it will require transparency, sacrifice and intentionality to see any community transformation.

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