What is the formula for a great community? Is it easily accessible? Does it really work? What does community look like?
Community is important to me. Over the course of my life I have experienced varying levels of community. Sometimes the pendulum swung left and I experienced very surface relationships inside of a community. Other times it swung far right and I was a part of a group who didn’t know how to function outside of the few in that circle.
As I’ve grown older and experienced healthier relationships and community, I have discovered that community can be in so many places. We can have a great community inside of our work place. Our families can be amazing communities. Community inside of close friendships is a no-brainer.
But the one place I feel we’ve really missed community is in the body of Christ. If ever there was a place for segregation, “us four and no more” mentality and separation by denomination, we’ve experienced it to one degree or other among believers.
Outside of the fact that God has been gracious to Shannon and I, allowing us to experience community in a healthy, life-giving way over the last few years – and outside of the fact that we are here in Waynesville to replicate that DNA – it seems I’ve been reading more and more passages in Scripture about this thing called “Community” and what it should look like in the body of Christ as a whole.
I feel like Philippians 2:1-4 gives us a clear formula for such a community. A community that works together, supports one another, encourages each other and loves beyond denominational walls or differences. Let’s take a look.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:1-4 NASV [emphasis mine]
Do you see the formula there?
It’s almost too simple to be true, right? As believers, as followers of Christ, Paul urges us to have the same mind, same love, same Spirit and same purpose. He expresses that we should be selfless, humble, and prefer others over ourselves. If you go on to read the rest of that chapter, you’ll find that he talks about how Jesus, although He was equal with God, didn’t take on that role. Instead, He became less so that He could show us a more excellent way.
We are finding that as we grow in Christ, drawing closer to Him and our Father in Heaven, our desires become His desires. And I fully believe that He desires us to be in relationship with one another, to serve one another, to love the unlovable, to reach the hurting and to show the world that we can be in community with each other, even if we don’t see eye to eye on every thing.
As we continue to plant this church and partner with Papa in everything He has planned for us, we are determined to walk in love, walk by faith and practice a healthy community. We’ve been too long, as a body of believers, at odds with one another, fighting against the minors while not fully realizing we are on the same team.
When we can learn to practice healthy community within our own churches and within the body of Christ as a whole, I really believe we will see a greater unity and deeper love within the fellowship of believers.
If we can do that, we will change the world.