8 truths to remember when approaching Christian community
One: Christian community is God’s idea and plan for reaching the world with the gospel.
As much as we would like to be independent, self-sufficient beings, the reality is we DO, in fact, need each other.
There is a tension between carrying someone’s burdens and boundaries, but isolation isn’t the answer to that tension.
Acknowledging your need for others and their need for you doesn’t mean community is neat and tidy. Still, it does recognize God’s sovereign plan for community and our need to seek His wisdom and guidance to carry it out.
Two: Community is designed to help carry one another’s burdens but not become responsible for another’s life or responsibilities. Within a community, everyone is still expected to deal with their own responsibilities (feelings, attitudes, and behaviors) while supporting each other within the community.
Three: Carrying another’s burdens isn’t meant to be done with our own strength.
Christian Community should be made up of believers who are temples for the Spirit of the Living God. If we are in community with Jesus–union–vine/branch sort of intimacy. Carrying another’s burdens isn’t solely our responsibility. We are simply the vessel to receive part of a load and then give everything and everyone to God. Within this posture, we ask God, “what part do I have in carrying this burden?”
Four: There is no perfect community–not even (or maybe especially) a Christian community. Every community (large or small) is made up of fallen, broken, beautiful people. And every single person is limited in their spiritual maturity–which means we are all a work in progress. That includes me and you and that person you desperately admire.
People are going to let you down. And we should never sweep poor behavior under the rug (not what I’m saying at all). We should address it either with the person or within ourselves. Approaching Christian community must begin with the same grace we have each received in Christ.
Five: Community is a gift (even in all its messiness). The more emphasis and gratitude offered for the community, the stronger that community will grow and the more YOU will grow.
Six: Community isn’t meant to make you whole or meet your every need.
Don’t get me wrong, Christian community CAN meet a need or fill a void, but if that’s ALL you’re looking for, the Christian community will disappoint at some point.
Finding satisfaction in Christian community is actually a by-product of joining in on the mission of sharing God’s plan to redeem and heal the hurt of the human heart. Healthy Christian community happens as you bring everything you have (in all its imperfections) together with other Christ-followers (in all their imperfections). It is paired with the reflective love each of us has received (and should continually be receiving) through the Spirit of God at work in us.
Seven: Community works when we have a determination to continue in community and an attitude interested more in what value we can add to a community than what we can receive.
As the day of Christ’s return approaches, it is increasingly vital that we make Christ-centered community a priority–part of the rhythm of our lives. It’s easy to get out of the habit of participating in Christian community, especially when your whole world gets turned upside down (did someone say ‘global pandemic’?)
Living in a Christ-centered community is an intentional choice to position yourself in the epicenter of God’s plan for accomplishing His Kingdom purposes. It sounds like a pretty good place to find yourself as you await the return of Christ.
Eight: When the goal of community becomes sharing the GOOD NEWS of Jesus alongside a community of believers, it makes all the difference. It is no longer about how adequate or inadequate the Church is. It is about how you can add value to the community. And YOU (as a Christ-follower) have value–Jesus paid a HIGH price to make you part of His family. And His name on your heart means you have a lot of value to add.
Biblical References: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:24-25, John 17:11