Being the Community of God
The church is a community of believers who rely on each other for strength and support, and work together to accomplish God’s will on this earth. Jesus’ says this community is more important than a person’s earthly family (Mk. 3:31-35). I witnessed this while I was in India. The church in India does not meet on Wednesdays or Sunday evenings, but they do meet every time there is a special occasion (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.). Many of the Christians in India have been disowned by their Hindu and Muslim relatives. Their church family is all they have. They are a community of believers who has no other choice, but to rely on their brothers and sisters in Christ.
The American church is not forced to rely on their church family like other places in the world. As Americans we pride ourselves on our independence. When someone is in need we often think they should be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. We spend very little time trying to be the community God wants us to be. I think most of us probably think more of our earthly family than our spiritual family, and we probably work harder at making our earthly family work. I think most of us would rather sit at home alone in front of the television, than to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have relegated fellowship to a meal we have once a month that only a portion of the congregation attends. We may hold the right ideas about community, but we rarely put them into practice.
There are many passages within the bible which speak of the Christian community, but I believe two are especially important. If we change our practice and maybe even ideas about community the church will be healthier and start to grow. In Acts 2:44-47 we are given a picture of the first Christian community. Because of their daily dedication to community they were blessed with growth. If we were to focus more on being a community, then I believe it would result in growth. In Philippians 2:1-8 Paul explains how we are to live and act within the community. If the Christian community is going to succeed, then we must have a spirit of humility. Paul puts it this way, “look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” If all we think about is ourselves, then our community will be full of turmoil and strife, and it will ultimately be torn apart, but if we put on the mind of Christ and strive to serve others we will bear the fruit God desires. Whether or not we have a community that grows and bears fruit is up to us. We as individuals must decide to check our egos at the door and work at being what God wants us to be.