In my last blog we looked at the word “koinonia”, signifying a sense of community, fellowship, sharing together and the very important concept of ‘one-anothering’. I finished the last blog with the verse “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13 v 34-35). Love is central to Christianity and our fellowship together. The bible says “The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Galatians 5 v 14).
This may be an obvious statement but we cannot practice community and show love on our own; we need other people. The bible says; 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 v 24-25).
Meeting with other Christians is not always easy. People can be irritating, imperfect, frustrating and frankly quite annoying. It seems that Jesus delights to put people in our communities who ‘rub us up the wrong way’. This is actually a GOOD thing!! It enables us to grow in faith and character and is a means of sanctification (being made more like Jesus). We are in danger of becoming self-absorbed if left on our own. Being with other Christians means we are forced to consider each other and often have to do things we don’t necessarily want to. It may be extremely irritating but this is in God’s great plan to smooth off our rough edges.
So now assuming we are actually meeting together (some even fall at this first hurdle!); how can we serve one another?
I have mentioned in a previous blog that God has given each one of us gifts that we are to use in order to help one another. These can be spiritual: words of knowledge and wisdom; teaching; healing; even leading worship. But we also have practical gifts of service, helps and encouragement. We all have at least one of these gifts and nobody (except Jesus) has all of them, so every time we meet together we all have something to contribute for the benefit of everyone.
Let’s look at a super practical example. When Liz and I got married, the church community helped us on our wedding day in many different ways; by preparing and serving food, doing music and PA, setting out the rooms; a myriad of jobs that mostly we didn’t even pay for. We enjoyed the benefits of belonging to a community – we had gladly served at many weddings before ours, now it was our turn to be blessed. A few years later we were blessed again as our children were born and we received delicious meals from our wonderful community to help us through those difficult early days of parenthood. We would have missed out on all these blessings if we had not been part of a community into which we were also contributing.
There are many creative ways in which you can be a blessing to your community: Look for a need and find a way to meet it (this may involve asking others). A favourite phrase of ours that shapes the way Liz and I minister is from Ecclesiastes 9 v 10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” I say “phrase” because the rest of the verse is somewhat depressing, (and it may be taken slightly out of context), but hopefully the sentiment is understood!
In all of our serving and caring for one another, without even noticing it, we are being a witness to the world. We are like pieces of a puzzle; when we are connected to the other pieces the world will say “wow, what a beautiful picture”, but they will only see this picture when all the pieces are fitted in together!
I would love to have your comments on ways you have been blessed in the church community or how you have been involved with blessing others. It would be great too, to have some of your ideas of ways we can contribute to our community.