Community is important in Christianity, yet I find myself resistant to opportunities to fellowship and 3 church services a week. I selectively enjoy fellowship, but it must be on my terms and oftentimes on my turf. Opportunities to fellowship felt like a punishment to me. And so I decided that I would need to start studying Christian community in the Word, if I wanted to change my perspective of community (from a negative outlook to a positive outlook).
When I started studying this topic, I found over 2 dozen passages speaking on the importance of and directions regarding community. What did I find?
1. Too much alone time isn’t good (Genesis 1:24-2:25)
2. It’s pleasing to God to see His people living in unity (Psalm 133)
3. More advisers increase the likelihood of plans succeeding (Proverbs 15:22)
4. I’m better off if someone is watching my back (Ecclesiastes4:9-12)
5. The second most important command is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40)
6. Jesus is where 2+ believers are. Also, we are to follow a specific procedure when disagreeing with another believer. (Matthew 18:15)
7. Jesus had fellowship and had community. (Mark 3:14)
8. We are a branch of God’s tree. We are a part of His community. (John 15:1-12)
9. Jesus prayed that his disciples and future believers would be unified (John 17)
10. The early church had a vibrant community (Acts 2:41-47; 4:32-37)
11. We are many parts of one body (Romans 12)
12. Paul pleads for us to be united (1 Corinthians 1:10)
13. We serve the same God. We have different gifts. We are one body (1 Corinthians 12)
14. We are to carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2)
15. We are to encourage each other (Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.) We are to love, be kind, and be compassionate to each other (Ephesians 4)
16. We are to pray for each other (Ephesians 6:18)
17. We are to be of the same mind, after all we serve the same God (Philippians 4:2)
18. We are to do good to those who do wrong to us (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15)
19. We are to brainstorm ways to encourage each other and keep meeting with each other (Hebrews 10:24-25)
20. We are to NOT gossip (James 4:11)
21. We are to be hospitable (1 Peter 4:9)
22. We are to shepherd those in our care (1 Peter 5:1-4)
23. We are to fellowship with each other (1 John 1:7)
- Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
- And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
Community isn't bad or a punishment. It can be challenging. It can be frustrating. But God wants us to interact with other believers (and non-believers). Community stretches us, but teaches us important lessons on interacting with people-broken, faulty, well-intended humans...just like me. Quiet time and solitude has its place, but so does community.
What would happen if I stopped being resistant to community and started to work to bring God's ideal community (outlined in His word) into reality in my life?