Community – Part 1

For years I’ve struggled to understand a term that I’ve often heard in Christian circles. It’s a term that many people use, but also shy away from in times of challenge, tension, and struggle. It’s important, however, that I acknowledge that I’m no different than those people who struggle with this in times of difficulty. And that’s just the problem. The term I’m referring to is community, and it is not only confusing, but evasive to the natural person. We use it to hold people accountable. We use it to invite people to something special. We use it as an ideal or mission statement to strive after. We use it to justify decisions of membership in this church or that church or for this ministry within a church or that ministry within a church. But, what we often find is that just as soon as we engage in it, we’re scratching our heads to justify its demise as we exit stage-right from its demands in times of struggle and difficulty.

What I’m saying is this…when we find ourselves in difficulty or in relational challenges with people in what we might call a community, we often check out mentally, emotionally, spiritually or just leave all together. It’s a concerning situation that we’ve seen or experienced in the Christian life. It’s concerning simply because the Christian and all their relationships with other Christians are to be peculiar in every way. In fact, Jesus was clear in His charge to His followers… “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

There are two key principles to this new commandment: (1) an expectation that Christ-followers love each other in the same way Christ loved them and (2) that their love toward each other is a testimony to those who are not Christ-followers as to the veracity of their identity with Christ. And so, the relationship of the Christian toward other Christians has both internal, as well as external implications. In other words, as the Christian rightly loves his fellow Christian as Christ loved him he is walking in obedience to Christ–and God is glorified, and at the same time he is also testifying to those who do not follow Christ that they are truly followers of Christ–and God is magnified. Love, then, among Christians is a YES and an AMEN regarding their relationship to Christ, as well as an act of obedience to Christ. Amazing.

However, in many cases what I’ve seen and heard among Christians–inside the church in general, as well as outside–is that when challenges or tensions or difficulties or disagreements or differences of opinions or whatever else could cross another arises they often disengage.

It’s important to point out that while not every person exits what many call a community when it’s challenging–and when they do it’s for valid and biblical reasons–the consideration is nevertheless there front and center. The reason is human nature–we assume fight or flight when we’re faced with tension, which presents the paradox of community. We desire so-called community at some level–because we’re wired for it–and so we pursue it, but we find the struggle too much to bear and its demands often force us to leave one group or community for another group or so-called community. And the cycle continues…

However, Jesus’ new commandment was clear…we’re to love other followers of Christ. And this is experienced in the context of community. Therefore, community is worth pursuing, it’s worth the battle, it’s worth the reward, it’s worth the struggle, and it’s worth the journey.

Where then should one begin?

  • First, establish the foundation of community…
  • Second, define community…
  • Third, identify the needs within community…
  • Fourth, understand the stages of community…
  • Fifth, cultivate the 5 pillars of community…
  • Sixth, find ways to engage in community…

The aim of this series is to fortify and reinvigorate the resolve of any willing soul as they continue or assume the long, arduous, and rewarding journey of struggling well in community…


More installments to come, but until then let your heart worship God alongside this song…

*All material on this blog solely represents the views and opinions of the author, and therefore is not necessarily intended to represent any institution or organization unless otherwise stated. 
— January 5, 2018