Thoughts on Community

At The Well last night (aka: BCM), Stuart Fuller came and delivered a powerful message on what it means to be a community of Christians, sharing his struggles and successes throughout the years of his experiences with different types of community. 

Genesis 1:1-3 shows us three different names for God.  As Stuart put it, there is Him, Himself, and God.  The Creator, the Spirit, and God in the Word (aka: Flesh).  Throughout the Bible, the English translated hundreds of Hebrew names for God into the simple name, God.  Without knowing the original use in each form, we loose all we know about God.

“Then God said, “Let US make human in OUR image…”” Genesis 1:26

Now look at Genesis 2:18.  After everything he made is pronounced good, he states “It is not good for the man to be alone.” 

We are not fully the image of God because we cannot have community with ourselves as God can.  This is why he created woman, together, united in marriage, man and woman create the image of God.  As community, we create the image of God. 

Then the fall happens.  Cain and Abel come onto the scene.  Jealousy leads to shame, which leads to isolation, which leads to murder, and when God asks Cain where Abel is, he replies “Am I my brother’s keeper.”  Individualism.  We have lost the image of God because humanity no longer has community.  In truth and community, you are your brothers keeper.

Life continues on and the people of Israel continue to seek individuals to lead them, not relying on one another in community, but a single leader, a prophet, a judge, a king to guide them.

Then God in the Word comes down to teach us what it means to community, Jesus, the God in Flesh.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Throughout His three years of teaching, Jesus shows us the perfect example of community, by living it out.  He teaches Israel that it is not you and God, it is always US and God.  Each time he talks about the community, the Kingdom, of God, he teaches using “each other” or “one another”. 

1 Corinthians 6:19, Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  How many times have we used this verse to try to prove a point of not getting a tattoo, or eating healthier, or working out more because, as individuals, we are each a temple for God? 

Another thing that the English language cannot translate is the difference between you (individual) and you (singular).  As Stuart pointed out, the original text is not talking about individuals, but about community.  The body that Paul is talking about is not a single human body, but the body of believers, You All (or ‘Y’all’ in the South). 

To connect with God, we need community.  We need to be engaged with one another, encouraging and loving one another.  Stuart did a much better job as showing us the community that God desires as followers of the Way.  He also gave us some advice on Community, something that I will pass on to the world.

First, communities need to learn to pray together.  We need to trust one another to unlock the Holy Spirit that dwells in our communities.  When we pray, we need to be truthful about ourselves.  Don’t pray for generic problems, but we need to be able to open ourselves up to the truth about ourselves and share our individual struggles with one another. 

If you don’ have conflict, it isnt community.  As a community of God, we need to learn to fight well over sin.  We need to learn to leave ourselves open to examination, as well as fully examining the lives of those in our communities, so that no sin can enter in and destroy what God has given us.  In doing this, we need to learn how to risk everything to grow in Christ. 

As a community, we need to give ourselves away missionally.  We need to seek out problems in our communities and share our talents, strengths and weaknesses to accomplish what we cannot do alone.  This can be helping your neighbor in your housing development or helping to ease the burden of a Global problem.  Big or small, we need to engage in missions.  Reproduce the Spirit that has been poured out into us, so that the world may know the change. 

Just because you live close to someone does not mean you have community.  Taking a large body of believers and putting them in a smaller room does not create community. 

As a community, one person needs to take authority.  Authority, as Stuart put it, is the ability to love others more than anyone else can.  The one that shares this unconditional and sacrificial love will be given authority in a community.

It is healthy and natural for communities to constantly change.  God may not call us to stay in one place for a long time.  It is healthy to allow people to leave communities, because God id calling them elsewhere or because they are being sent to start a new community. 

Lastly, communities are natural and organic, they can never be forced.  If it becomes an obligation to get together, then it is not a community.  They must learn to flow with the Spirit, open to change and the will of God. 

Community is something that we, as the American society, struggle with.  We live in a world that calls us to be independent, but God is calling us to learn how to trust in the image of God.  He is calling us to believe and dream like children again, to trust in one another.

I am not perfect, I struggle with almost all of the points that Stuart made about community.  I still have much to learn about God and about living a life of ministry. 

God Bless and PEACE

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