WHY We Need to Live in Community
All the gifts of the Spirit listed in Romans 12.6-8, 1 Corinthians 12.4-11 and 1 Corinthians 12.4-11 and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.22-23 all are clearly only usable in community; in fact many of the gifts and fruit are only usable when either facing adversity or to build up others in community.
Living in community is the best anecdote for depression and lack of purpose and meaning in life. God knows the quickest way to teach us to be more like Him is to live in community. We need to learn to love one another, serve one another,forgive one another,regard other people more importantly than our selves; we are to teach and correct others,encourage, confess our sins and pray for each other. We are to bear each other’s burdens. We are to be generous,kind, warn the unruly, comfort the faint, and consider the one who is weak. We are to hope for the best, believe the best even when seeing the worst. We are to submit to one another to show honor to Jesus. This all happens in community, and are all processes of growth. We have a safe place with Christian community because we are accepted in the beloved, and encouraged and surrounded with compassion and encouragement that gives us hope and helps us to move beyond our limitations.
Being part of a group of people moves us outside self-consumption and isolation into a place where others can benefit from our lives and we may benefit from theirs. Community makes us accountable to others. Having different strengths and weaknesses, together, community challenges us as we live life together. I become part of something bigger than myself. I learn to care for others, and to let others “in” to care about me. I learn from others, and others learn from me. Christian community means that When you meet together, each has a hymn, a teaching, a disclosure of special knowledge or information, an utterance… or an interpretation… to the end that we learn to …let everything be constructive and edifying and for the good of all.
To live in community mandates unselfishness in order to live in harmony and unity. I am able to be built up and become mature, and the balance of the gifts should stop me from being led astray by unbalanced or isolated teachings that change with the wind. I learn to strip away my preoccupation with myself in order to serve others while in a community.
When I hear what God is teaching others, it teaches me, too. When I submit to the guidance and scrutiny of my brothers and sisters, it forces me to grow and to be accountable to the commitments I make. I am supposed to be in the midst of a community of believers using their gifts:
He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church. Their purpose is to prepare God’s people to serve and to build up the body of Christ. This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head. He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Part of the Body of Christ
The call to community is a call to serve God by serving others:
I THEREFORE, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service, Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another andmaking allowances because you love one another. Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace. [There is] one body and one Spirit—just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received—
Paul’s letters to the churches show the heart he has for them and the heart we should have for others in our community: [And we] continue to pray especially andwith most intense earnestness night and day that we may see you face to face and mend and make good whatever may be imperfect and lacking in your faith.
Through community, where you are strong you can help those that are going through a season where they aren’tstrong; when you are weak, those that are stronger can help encourage you as you walk through a rough patch. As part of a Church family, I have been the recipient and giver of much-needed encouragement, clothing passed down from church members. I have organized dinner drops for new moms just getting home from the hospital with their newborns, and then been a recipient of the same. You have opportunity to visit and encourage shut-ins who can’t get out of their homes for one reason or another. Families facing death or life challenges are strengthened by others coming alongside them. People in the hospital that need encouragement can be visited or a card sent. My husband and I have been able to help countless troubled marriages make it through by being in community.
Community means watching over one another for good, knowing that as we serve, we are serving as unto Christ Himself, for His glory that all grow stronger in Him. We make a big mistake when we think that the local church is only for our own spiritual growth. It is also a chance to use your spiritual gifts through the body of believers to be a part of the spiritual growth of others. The end result is that you willgrow spiritually as you seek to serve, as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life…
By the unity and oneness we enjoy as members one of another, the world may know and [definitely] recognize that [God] has send [Jesus] and that [God] has loved them [even] as [God] has loved [Jesus].
Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’llget all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
Our people have to learn to be diligent in their work so that all necessities are met (especially among the needy) and they don’t end up with nothing to show for their lives.
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
The dynamics of a good church is seen when you are camping and make a fire. The fire will seem to be dying out, but when you shift the wood and move things to the center, you can get the fire glowing again. It is the same way when things fall and shift and people are moved to the sidelines. When they are stirred up, or even bump into another in close association, like a piece of wood stirred up, or a log that bumps into another log that is hotter, the fire will start burning again. By stirring up and being stirred up, each log where the fire is going out can easily be ignited by another that is already blazing. Utilizing this synergistic energy is what the Church is all about. Like the wood that has fallen aside in the camping fire, left to itself, a lone piece of wood dies out and loses that fire for the truth of God’s Word, and for the children of God, through which our love for the Lord is to be demonstrated each day.
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Never lag in zeal andin earnest endeavor; be aglow andburning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints]; pursue the practice of hospitality. Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is honest andproper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone .If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
God madeyou for community. You need others and others need you. Without others, we begin to collapse upon ourselves. As our world becomes smaller, our issues grow bigger. We get absorbed by our own struggles and lose perspective.
Amidst the pressures of life, our default is to take the easy road. When we finally get a few moments to relax, staying at home, vegetating in front of the TV or mindlessly roaming the Internet all seem like better choices than making the effort to engage others.
Ironically, our social media culture has us in touch with more people than ever, but it also has us less connected than ever. We email, tweet and Facebook, but we spend less and less time face to face with others. (Maybe the reason we email, tweet and Facebook is because we can stay connected without the real effort of staying connected.)
Take an honest inventory. Are you living your life in authentic community, or are you living your life on the edge of isolation? When is the last time you went out on a weeknight? When is the last time you sat and talked with a friend over coffee?
It might seem easier to stay home, but not in the long run. Every choice has a cost. Community takes more up front, but the effort pays for itself. Isolation takes less up front, but you wind up paying a steep price.
Get off the couch. Shut off the computer. Go to that activity at church. Take a class. Join a small group. Call a friend. God knows you need it.
John 13.34-35; John 15.12; John 15.17; Romans 13.8; 1 Thessalonians 3.12; 1 Peter 1.22; 1 John 3.11; 1 John 3.23; 1 John 4.7; 1 John 4.11-12; 2 John 5
Ephesians 4.32; Colossians 3.13
Romans 12.10; Philippians 2.3
 1 Thessalonians 5.11
 2 Corinthians 9.11
 1 Thessalonians 5.14
 1 Corinthians 13.7
 1 Corinthians 14.26
 Ephesians 4.11–16 (GW)
 Ephesians 4.1–4 (AMP)
 1 Thessalonians 3.10 (AMP)
 1 Peter 4.8–11 (MSG)
 Romans 14.19
 2 Timothy 1.6
 Romans 12.9–18 (AMP)