The “us” love
I was reminded today about the three loves each believer has by the power of the Holy Spirit in us. These loves are the love of God, love of us, and love of people. Today, I would like us to focus on the love of us.
Of course, love of us includes love of self; this is Biblically correct. However, love of self extends beyond us as individuals. We find in the New Testament God’s guidance to make us “individuals” into us as a community. We all need others, even introverts like me. For everyone, Jesus expects us to bond together. We should know and be known by our Christian brothers and sisters. We should find solace in them during times of tragedy, strength during hardships, shared joy in our blessings.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”1 Peter 4:8-11
The essential attribute we find in a community of believers is consistent, holy lives of adults that love and invest in the children of their community. Kids need safety, and they desperately need to see and experience the broad spectrum of personalities, ethnic diversities, and professions of God-fearing brothers and sisters that are our communities.
Kids need to see how we settle disagreements (Colossians 3:13) and build Christ-centered communities. We need to live what the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) and we should learn from what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-27)
Our kids need to see and experience how to contribute to the community. Kids need to learn how to give without the expectation of receiving, how to strengthen the brokenhearted, how to weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. We all need this, no matter how long we have served Jesus.
It takes a community of believers
The phrase “It takes a village” has become common vernacular. I’m not sure about the village metaphor, but I do know that to raise up children to be contributors to the kingdom of God, it takes a Christ-centered community abounding in good works and steadfast dedication to living our new lives in Jesus. The local church should be the center and facilitator of a Christian community, but that’s not always the case.
A community of believers can spring up from a common cause, such as a mission to the homeless, a food pantry, prayer meetings; any number of overt expressions of God’s will can cause a community to be birthed. There are countless communities of international believers that still avoid the “bigness” of their community; they remain personal. After all, it’s not a community if we can’t speak, pray, teach, worship, and work together.
It’s okay to be a member in several communities
We are not limited to a single community of believers. God has not called us to be gadflies, but there is no command that I’m aware of that constrains us to a single Christian community. The local church should always be and remain our first community. Still, there are others to which God may guide us. Two that come to mind are “Faith Driven Entrepreneurs.” If you are a Christian small business owner, this is a great community to join and Prison Fellowship (i.e. angel tree).
The good news
So, the good news is that God does not expect you or me to be disconnected from fellow believers. We must pray and seek communities that God has created a place for us. And we should never forget, our local church is our preeminent community in which God desires us to fellowship and grow. And we must commit to what God’s Word says in Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.“
That’s it. Someday, I hope to join you in a believers’ community!
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