Today I’ve got a great blog from fellows NYC pastor and blogger – Edwin Pacheco
For many Christians today the idea of “Community” is something that almost seems like a fairytale.
It is something desired but many times never experienced. Its something sought after but in our seeking, we find much disappointment. Yet, for me, I realized that community, real Biblical Community, many times will not look like what we want it to look like. In fact, it is rare that true Biblical Community is fleshed out to our liking. This is because Biblical Community gives room for things we often try to avoid in the pursue of community.
Let me explain.
For many have a notion that Biblical Community has to be perfect. It must be a depiction of Heaven on Earth – meaning no one should have any issues, there should not be sin, we can’t struggle nor have unbelief in this community.
Yet the truth of the matter is Biblical Community must have some of these elements in it for the purpose of sanctification, maturity, and discipleship to occur. I grew up in a time where Christians had to wear a mask and respond to the question “How are you?” with “I am blessed and highly favored. The inside I was JACKED UP to the fullest! I felt I could not show others my weakness because they would think less of my or judge me, hence disqualifying me from the fellowship of the saints. This my brothers is a harsh reality of what many have reduced “community” to. Its more important what you say than how you live. Unfortunately this kind of community wars against the very Community, Family in which we are called to be part of.
In the brief article, I would like to outline elements of what Biblical Community looks like and how we as the Family of God can do to ensure others find safety in it.
1- Biblical Community is not like family, it is family
As we think about Biblical Family we must embrace and respond in a way that puts to rest some bad practice. Mainly being, we tend to look at those in our Biblical Communities as people who are “Like family”. Growing up we all had those close friends who we said where our “cousins” yet we knew they where not family but everyone else though they where…ok maybe that was just me. Anyway, once we came to a place we did not agree on the same things they no longer had the privilege of being my cousin, because truth is they really weren’t. In the same manner, we tent to treat those in our Biblical Communities just like that fake cousin. The moment we don’t agree on issues we find it easy to disregard them. However, we cannot do this because they are not “like-family”, they ARE family. Now, with this in mind, it should be almost impossible to ever give up on anyone that is part of our community. We should be growing in love with them and form them even in the midst of conflict. We see that in Paul’s opening letter to the church in Thessalonica he is encouraged by their growing love for one another.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 ESV)
2- Biblical Community Exist for Discipleship
One great challenge we face when it comes to understanding Biblical Community is our distorted view of discipleship. We in many ways have reduces discipleship to a once a week meeting at a coffee shop to ask people how they are doing in life. I’m not saying this is a bad thing however, this is not discipleship. Discipleship in the invitation to live and walk with others for the sake of you all growing in faith and maturity for the glory of God. A coffee shop meeting will not fulfill this. Jesus, the Master disciple-maker shows us that discipleship requires far greater an ask, far greater a risk, and far greater an investment into the lives of those we call to live in community with. Matthew 4: 19 shows us this “Come, follow me…and I will make you fishers of men.” Here Jesus calls the disciples to Himself (follow me) and at the same time gives them a reason for following “fishers of men.” Over the next 3 years these men experienced community in a way that gave room for them to learn, grow, make mistakes, and grow some more. Eventually, these very same men who gave up everything to live in this community reaped the benefits of the fulfillment of scripture. They became fishers of men. When Jesus first calls them he does so with the end in mind…fishers of men. As a result, when we think about Biblical Community, we too must have the end in mind. We must think about what should those who are part of this Biblical Community look like or better put, what is the end result of their lives. What are we calling to fallow and what are we calling to live on mission for? These questions should shape what Discipleship in the context of community looks like. Again, lets make sure we are calling people to the correct thing and for the correct mission…Christ and His name being had known.
3- Biblical Community Produces Missional Action
The book of Acts become the platform for this third point. After the church is birth we see that the believers continue to gather as a community. They eat together, pray together, learn together (Acts 2:42-47) and even are persecuted together (Acts 8:1-3). This kind of Biblical Community becomes the very foundation and fabric of what the Church (The Ekklesia) is to be. A people who are called out for a purpose and on a mission. It is in this context that Gods people find reason and opportunity to flesh out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). With that said, being part of a Biblical Community which has the first two elements established in a healthy manner will produce a vision to give up our lives and live for the glory and exhortation of God’s great name. This mission becomes the very reason for our existence as we see humanity from a different light. We begin to see that there real people who are going to a real hell if they do not come to a saving knowledge of God. We will become broken for those whom are far from God and intern, we will desire to be a catalyst by which they are reconciled to the Father. If our communities do not produce this kind of living in us we should consider the reason for its existence. Biblical Community MUST produce Missional Action!
My hopes and prayer is that you as a Christian would be moved to be actively engaged in a Biblical Community which fleshes out the reality that we need each other to fulfill this call of God. Christianity cannot be done and was never intended to be done in isolation but rather in the context of community and in relationship with others. This is why scripture refers to the Ekklesia as a Family, The Bride, Sons & Daughters, a Body of Many Members…Let’s make sure this is what the world sees. Let them know that our love for God and neighbor is real and is producing in us a life that is worthy of the call of God.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV) Edwin Pachecho Diary of a Reformed Charismatic edpacheco.blogspot.com