Community in Christ should be a place of safety. It should be a place of joy, freedom, and add to my pleasure at all times. It should be free of guilt, shame, hurt, and pain. God’s love is perfect so among His people I want to be loved perfectly. I want safety. I want security. I want easy. I want comfort. I want risk free. I want burden free. This is apart my inheritance in Him. My salvation didn't come with strings and shortcomings so community shouldn't either. So when people fail me I should cut them right? Wrong. I should fight to see the truth. The truth is I was not promised and will not receive perfect love from anyone but Christ. So I must not seek perfection in anyone but Him. When you come to community with false expectations you will never appreciate, endure, or prepare for the brokenness. Christ gives us His people to love and do life with but we must make room for the reality that His are broken. Perfection is not promise or aim of community but we must focus on what the true picture of community in Christ is.
Community is a beautiful concept and should be embraced and sought after while keeping some keys things in mind.
“And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."”
Community has never been and never will be about you. God gives us community because it helps us reflect His image and His glory. In order to be effective in community I have to remove my desires and my preferences and let truth alone stand as the guiding mechanism. Does what I want from community start and end with the character of God? If not chances are it’s my flesh and that should never be the component that leads me. I must always be led by God’s spirit and His spirit is always confirmed by His word. Obedience to God is remembering he commanded me to love others in Him. He commanded me to love others for Him.
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV
Community is given to you from God. Gifts are meant to be cherished. I should seek to cherish the relationships and community God has blessed me with. God gave me Himself and His people as part of my adoption into His family. Before community is mine it is God’s and it is something I am given freely in Him. When people give you gifts the proper thing to do is to care for them well and remember the gift as a reminder of the place the giver holds in your life. Your treatment of a gift someone gives you has a direct correlation to your love for that person. You should care to exercise good stewardship of things given to you by those you love. If this is how we care for basic material items, how much more should we care for people God gives us to do life who He created in His image for His glory.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
Philippians 2:3-7 ESV
Community is a place for you to seek to serve others well more than you seek to evaluate how well you're being served. This is very difficult in a society that teaches us to look out for ourselves, pursue our dreams, fight for our personal sanity, fight for our happiness but this isn’t the design of Christ centered community. This is not to say that community shouldn’t be reciprocal but it is to say that reciprocity isn’t the standard Christ minded service is. Its alright to express how you want to be served and loved but is not alright to make that the focus or the requirement for community. God decided the standard and it is Him and obedience to Him. Community flourishes best when we lay down the “I” attitude and pick up the “He did”, “He commands”, so “I Will” attitude instead.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Romans 15:5-7 ESV
Community is about commitment not comfort. There will be many times in community where you want to give up. People will fail you. You will fail you. Your wishes will not be met. The list goes on and on. Each of things points to the desire for ease and comfort. You have to make a daily decision out of commitment and obedience to Christ to not forsake doing life with people. It will be challenging and it will be uncomfortable but it is well worth the commitment. We must remember that it is a commitment because He commanded us to live in harmony with one another.
Community may feel like something you are incapable of functioning in but it's not. When in doubt remember:
Live In Christ. Live in Compassion. Live in Community.
- Jenean Elizabeth