In my view, if we fail to understand how important Christian community is, we will struggle to grow and develop in our Christian walk. True Christian community is a fairly alien concept to those of us who live in a western culture. We tend to think we are in a community if we have a few friends on ‘Facebook’. This is miles away from what true Christian community is like. We may even think that by going to a couple of church meetings a week we’ve cracked it, but that is still a long way short. The early church had a good measure of community – we read in Acts 2 that the people were together and had everything in common, they shared their possessions and ate together, meeting together every day for times of worship and breaking bread.
The bible reveals that we have been created in the ‘image’ of God, made to reflect Him in many different ways. God reveals himself in the bible as being in a three person community; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We will never fully understand the concept of ‘one God but three distinct persons’, but we can glean a lot from how they lovingly interact and honour each other – the Son glorifying and obeying the Father, the Spirit revealing the Son.
Jesus reveals in his high priestly prayer of John 17 just how he wants his followers to reflect the relationship that he has with the Father:
“… .that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
What a glorious relationship that is! Perfect loving unity. This is what Jesus is praying for His church. We see it again in Philippians 2 verse 2 where Paul talks of ‘being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind’. It could be a description of the Trinity, but it is in fact a description of the Christian community.
The Christian community is to reflect the divine community. We are to love one another; share with one another; rejoice and mourn with one another and share our lives together.
In the next few weeks I am going to be delving into various aspects of being in community and how we can benefit from it. I hope you will find it useful. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your own thoughts and ideas as we look at this important subject together.