com·mu·ni·ty - a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Each of us was designed to be in community, to talk and listen, to love and be loved. We long to relate, to commune, to belong.
How do I get in community?
“What makes an aggregation of people into a community is that they are drawn together around some common object. Weaker community can be created by a common interest, such as a hobby, a sports team, a musical genre. Stronger community comes together around deep beliefs and causes, or powerful common experiences, like going through a flood or battle together—and surviving. There have been countless ‘buddy movies’ about some group of misfits who are extremely different in all kinds of ways, but then they are thrown together into a life or death situation. When they come through it together, it becomes the basis for a deep, permanent bond, stronger than blood.” Timothy Keller (Full Article- http://www.timothykeller.com/blog/2008/10/1/the-difficulty-of-community)
What is the “common object” that makes US a community?
The apostle Paul tells the church in Ephesians 2 about us being dead in our sin, feeding off our own desires. He goes on to say, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ.” (v. 4,5)
Stop for a moment and consider those verses (for as long as it takes).
God’s Mercy. God’s Love. We were Dead. We are Made Alive, in Jesus.
There is no deeper sense of community than what Christians have in Jesus. We all were dead in our sin, and have been restored to God through Jesus.
So amazing— Shocking! Yet, we often forget this beautiful truth. Our unity, we have in Jesus, surpasses any other sense of belonging. God makes you His own, through Jesus. You are drawn in as part of the family. That is why we call each other a family here at Calvary.
The only problem is, we don’t always act like Jesus, even though we are in Jesus. We’ve been adopted into the Family of God, yet we still tear each other down with our words and actions.
If you’ve been the church for any amount of time, you’ve likely been stung by your community, your family. We forget that we are to be humble, gentle, patient, and loving (as Paul shares later in Ephesians 4). That we are a part of one body. To harm someone within your family directly harms the whole family unit.
So family, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31,32
In our American culture, where we want it done fast, on the cheap, and to perfection… Remember being the church, a family, takes time, effort, and commitment. There is no greater place to belong, no greater community than when you are in Jesus.
So what should you do if you aren’t experiencing the kind of community you want?
In an article by Aaron Menikoff, You Don’t Find Community by Looking
for It, he shares 3 insightful answers.
#1- Pray for your church faithfully. Pray the body of Christ you’re part of would grow in this area. Churches fall short. No church is perfect. So pray your church would be so filled with Christ’s love that it would overflow into personal relationships within the church.
#2- Examine yourself. Are there patterns of behavior in your own life that serve as obstacles to the community you desire? Maybe your work schedule makes the kind of face time needed to live together difficult. Perhaps you’re prioritizing certain hobbies over gathering with God’s people (Heb. 10:24–25). Maybe, for whatever reason, you’ve kept others at arm’s length—refusing to let them really get to know you. Consider how you could make a greater effort to create the community you want to see.
#3- Seek solace in Christ. True community is never found by looking for it. It can only be found by pursuing Christ. He understands loneliness better than we do. Jesus hung alone, deserted by his closest friends, bearing the shame of sins he never committed. He knows what it’s like to be ignored, abandoned, overlooked. Fallen humans are inherently disappointing. Only Jesus is perfectly fulfilling. So let your seasons of loneliness point you to his sufficiency.
“Do you really believe in the ‘God of the Old Testament’? I mean, he seems so ticked off all the time! All that vengeance, and wrath, and anger. All those times where he orders the extermination of whole cities, and sometimes wipes them out himself (see Sodom and Gomorrah).
Watch as the young Beck men proclaim their love for Jesus as they obey his command to be baptized.
All My Hope
One of the things I LOVE about being a pastor at Calvary is some of the amazing people I get to serve with every day. A couple of those are our worship pastor, Matt Faulkner, and one of his worship leaders, Christy Freeman.
On Easter Sunday, the Calvary family got to witness God working in the lives of two men who publicly affirmed their faith through baptism. It was a joy to see!
I think one of the challenges to reading through The Whole Story of the Bible is to keep reminding ourselves that the people involved were very real people dealing with really crucial and often difficult circumstances. For example, we have now arrived at a sobering word from Yahweh through the prophet Micah.
We’ve made our way through The Whole Story to one of the most famous stories in all of the Bible, and maybe all of literature. The story of the prophet Jonah.