Breaking Into Community
I often think and read about community. I believe God made it part of His plan from the very beginning. He Himself is perfect community, Father, Son and Spirit living in authentic, loving relationship. United in purpose, each one contributed in creation.(Ge 1:1-3; Jn 1:1-2). God made people in His image (which includes making us relational beings as God is relational). Then, God invited us into the fellowship to be in relationship with God and in relationship with one another.
The problem is, in western culture, we have distorted the nature of community. Just like with most other things, we have made it “all about me.” How do I get my needs met? How do I keep myself safe? How do I make sure I feel warm and cozy. But for members of Christ’s community, it is never about “me.” Paul Exhorts us to, “Do nothing from selfishness….” and to “not look out merely for our own personal interests” (Php 2:3,4). Imagine if Jesus had adopted our mindset. Would He still have gone to the cross? “The fundamental threat to community is self-centerdness, but the vital builder of community is other-centeredness.” (Kenneth Boa- Conformed to His Image, pg 421)
Why does any of this matter? Apart from the fact that God designed it this way, community enables the fulfillment of ministry. “Ministry to the body of believers (edification) and to outsiders (evangelism) should flow out of the combination of being connected to God and connected to each other. Commitment to the person of God (Ro 12:1-2) displays itself in commitment to the purposes of God (Ro 12:3-8) and in commitment to the people of God (Ro 12:9-21) Outward ministry does not determine personal and corporate intimacy but should find its source in this intimacy with God and His people.” (Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image, pg 420)
Being self-centered in community moves us from our God given position as vital contributors within the body (1 Co 12:4-7). Instead, we become casual observers and leaches, drawing from others, but giving nothing in return. In that position, we shy away from all responsibility within the community. We easily point fingers, assigning blame for the ailments we see, all the while, ignoring that we too, by our lack of engagement, have helped to make the body sick. From the top of the head to the nail on the smallest toe, we need each other and what each one has to offer. In this position, running away also become easy. When things don’t go my way, when my needs are not being met, when I am no longer comfortable, I can simply walk away. I don’t believe that the community needs me as part of the solution. On the other hand, Romans 12:10 exhorts us to “Be devoted to one another.” Be loyal. Be faithful. Be true. Be steadfast. Be committed. Be dedicated. Strong words. God’s words, directed at citizens of the Kingdom, members of the Great Community.
As you read, what stood out to you?
What thoughts, questions, feelings and desires did it stir in you?
Talk with God about these things. What might He be saying to you?
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