In our brief glance at what biblical community looks like, we close by considering what the big picture of community is in light of scripture and God’s purposes. It is of great importance to regard God the Father as the author and instigator of all community that exists in its proper form in the local church. The idea of community-driven churches was not a man-made philosophy in times past nor is it a new method that young pastors are grasping onto in order for their church to appear successful.
The church in and of itself was breathed out by a holy God, created & ordained for His purposes and for His glorious will. We should not water down what it means to be in Christian community as though it is something we have discovered rather than what God originally intended for His people that He loves. He is most assuredly the author of community among believers and He desires us to get in on it. But we must understand that when community “happens” it is not because we have designed our churches well, but because He established it by His power so that He may use us for His pleasure. He is the ultimate designer of community.
Partnered with this truth is the fact that biblical community is solely Christ-centered. Why do we gather in community groups? For our own benefit or for the purpose of making much of Christ. We must be careful to not make community groups primarily about the needs of those that attend, but focused on the person of Jesus Christ and praising Him and His works among us. This will no doubt include helping and serving one another, but good deeds without Christ-centered theology as the ultimate thrust lessens the value of works to nothing.
Community without Christ is barren and fruitless and can be detrimental to the effectiveness of the church. It would do us well to be severely zealous to make Jesus the priority in our church gatherings so that we do not lose touch from the Father and begin to wander away in our own efforts to make more of ourselves. Jesus is key. He gave Himself up for the church, and there is nothing we can do to repay that great debt we owe. So when we gather, we gather in the presence of Jesus as His body, praising Him knowing that He is all that matters and that He is the real reason we commune with one another.
When we pray with one another, when we serve one another, when we confess our sins to one another, when we ponder God’s word together, when we sing to Him together, when we fellowship with one another, we are actively participating in the love of God the Father for the purpose of exalting the Lord Jesus. All of this is accomplished by the working of the Spirit in our hearts, minds, bodies, and our very being pouring out in worship of the one true God of heaven and earth. Even when we extended our arm in evangelism together as a biblical community of believers, we are acting as the vessels of the Holy Spirit reaching out to our neighbors and nations. When the desire is to love God above all and to make much of Jesus and make Him known among people, the Holy Spirit is the catalyst and the completion of all community within the local church, and community is only divinely functional by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Passages to Ponder:
1 Peter 2:4-5; Colossians 3:12-17; Romans 15:13