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.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.
This past Sunday we completed our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Ezekiel. We discovered in Ezekiel a book filled with dark visions and confrontational language. And one of the visions (probably the central, controlling metaphor of the book) Ezekiel presents is Israel as a beautiful bride who turns against her bridegroom, God, and breaks all the stipulations of her covenant.
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
Day Thirty-Two: A Mother's Wisdom (part two)
Yesterday, we heard from what was likely King Solomon’s mother imparting worthy words of wisdom in the area of leadership. For the sayings of wisdom we find here are those “which his mother taught him” (Proverbs 31:1). And she now turns her attention to the search for a woman of virtue and noble character, suitable to be a wife and mother.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.