Community has been the hot word in the Christian circle for awhile now. Couple it with the phrase doing life together and Woah La! you are in a “modern” church.
To tell you the truth though, I am coming to the conclusion that most Christians, when it comes to these concepts are pretty delusional. Strong words? Yes, but look up the definition and reflect it on the fact that there is becoming a severe dis-focus on having community rather than being the Church (big C meaning the Body of Christ, as Jesus referred to it).
There is an over importance put on this idea of having the ideal group of Christians living together in the same house or in the same neighborhood who are intertwined intimately with each other’s lives to the point of taking care of each other’s hearts.
And pastors teach: This is the one thing that you need that you cannot live without!
But this isn’t my reality. Come, step into my life where the above-mentioned is not an option.
My community can’t be drawn out on a post-it note. I can’t find it in walking distance. I need a world map.
I have a few and faithful set of individuals who I feel deeply connected with. We may not see each other for months or years on end, but I know our hearts are connected. This is my long distance community. It is held together by the Holy Spirit. Because I truly love God and they truly love God, we are connected. There is an overflow in our lives that spurs emotion and action. God is caring for each other’s hearts through us, not us on our own. It is a part of the Church.
Think about it this way: who wrote the majority of instructions in the Bible pertaining to community and the Church?
And what was his life like?
Certainly not rich in community, as he spent much of his time in prison writing to his friends as his only means of communication.
So the one man who seems to have the best grasp on what community or the Church should look like is the man who has none on the exterior.
What I am saying is there is something better out there for you. There is something deeper than what you are being offered by a disciple house or a spiritual father or a “Jesus family.”
There is a true God, who you can be grafted into. A vine that once you abide in it, connects you to every other believer. It makes a connection that moves you to action and emotion.
Jesus only referred to the Church twice (Matt 16: 18 and 18:17). The term used is ἐκκλησίας “ekklesia” which literally means “called out ones.” Jesus gives possession to the church calling it His, often this translates in Christianese to the Body of Christ.
To be connected to each other in the Church you must first be connected to Jesus on a personal level. You are called out of the world to Him. When your identity is found in Him and others are the same way, then you are united in Christ and in the Church. It’s a deep concept, often overlooked when we’re focused on family dinners and block parties.
” For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Here’s the thing. I’m not saying leave your community group or your disciple house. I’m not saying don’t have family dinners and block parties. I’m not saying these aren’t good things. I like having friends. Read Acts, Paul likes having friends. And in the end times there are individual churches called out- the general nature of people is to pool together, this is inevitable.
Truth is we were made for Church. And that starts with a one on one relationship with Jesus, from a solid foundation with deep roots. Too often communities step in and create a dependance on themselves rather than on God.
Communities are situational and quite honestly over-sensationalized. Do not, as I once did, allow your eyes to be drawn away from God in a search for Christian friends. It can and will become an idol in your life.
Desire to be part of the Church not just part of a community, because the Church is something much larger, much deeper, much more satisfying, and it is always a reality.
When you are part of the Church you are not holding it together- God is. When you are part of a community and people are trying to hold it all together, everyone gets hurt because they are leaning on each other, not on God. We must do all things through Him.
You might have to pull back mentally from where you are to see this.
Take what Jesus offers: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
That is much different than saying, “Come let’s all powwow and cry together.”
God is not offering to do life together. He is offering life itself.
Which will you choose?
Right now, on Earth, you have this one opportunity to love deeply and to surround yourself with people who are different from you and who also need God. You have forever to feel safe and you have eternity to be united with all believers. Do you throw this blessing away to crave comfort in community or do you rough it reliant on something deeper and greater than you can put on a floor plan- the Church.
* Much of this post is based on connotations and syntax, what you call “Kingdom Community,” “Jesus Family,” etc., may in fact be what I mean by Church- Jesus’ term, not mine.