It doesn’t matter if you are an extrovert or introvert, a social butterfly or a wallflower — we all crave and need community. We were not made to live in isolation. We need each other. Before we can understand what the Biblical community is and how to create it in our lives, we need to dispel some misunderstandings and mistaken ideas about it.
What a Biblical Community Is Not:
This may seem an unfair accusation, but allow me to explain. Generally, we form our closest friendships with those who are like us. We are similar in background, experiences, shared interests, personality, age, and stage of life, to name a few. There is nothing wrong with this. We are not going to be best friends with everyone. There are certain people we will just sync with in ways and on a level that we do not with others. However, we put ourselves in a dangerous place if we think that these friendships are the same as a community, especially a Biblical community.
A clique has all the qualities I mentioned above — common interests, shared experiences, and other life similarities — but it adds one extra component. It is exclusive. When a clique encounters someone who doesn’t match up to the prerequisites of the group dynamic, it naturally will not allow entrance. This doesn’t always manifest itself in rudeness or outright shunning. I’ve known plenty of cliques and sadly, even been part of them, where the people are civil, polite, and courteous. But they will not let others in past a certain point. This is especially dangerous and damaging in the church.
My pastor challenged us with this idea years ago and it has stuck with me. He asked us to consider the following questions about ourselves when we go to church:
While I cringe to admit it, there have been many occasions when my community has been more clique-ish than not. Because if we begin to equate community with friendship, we then run the risk of choosing comfortable exclusivity rather than an inclusive community.
So, What is a Biblical Community?
To understand what Biblical community is, we need to look at Acts 2. At the beginning of the chapter, the Holy Spirit comes, Peter preaches to the crowd, and thousands are added to the faith. Immediately after this, we are shown an example to follow as the church today about how to be an authentic community of God’s people.
A True Biblical Community Centers on Five Things:
How Do We Cultivate a Biblical Community?
The road to Biblical community begins with humility. We will love the Lord and His Word when we have a proper view of ourselves. Our relationships will go beyond mere friendships in the community when we are humble. We will be transparent about our weaknesses and ask for accountability because we recognize our need for the counsel of our fellow believers. We will be excited to include, serve, fellowship, and pray with and for each other when we understand how gracious God has been to us. We will not be able to ignore the desire to share the same grace, love, and generosity with others. Consider Philippians 2:3-8 which says,
“In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Christ gave us the ultimate example of humility. He set aside what He was due as a member of the Trinity and wrapped Himself in human frailty. He died the cruelest of deaths for those who hated Him. When we as the body of Christ consider and live by this example, we are able to walk together in the Biblical community as the early church did. We learn together, share each other's burdens, meet each other's needs, and spur each other on to good works for Christ and His glory.
We need community — not just because we were not made to do life alone. We need a Biblical community because we need God’s grace, every day. God gives us the community of the church and His people as an agent of His grace. He gave you His grace on the day He justified you and made you His own, and He continues to pour His grace out on you each day through His people as agents of growth and sanctification. And those same people need you, too!
We need each other! Whether young or old, married or single, regardless of wealth, race, background, or any other category that could be used to separate us. The Gospel unites us! Christ makes us one! Let us walk together in humility, serving God and others like those who have come before us in a generous, loving, authentic community as we await His return.
How is your Biblical community doing today?
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