Archive for July, 2013

Building ComeUnity

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3, 2013 by jimheinze

school-of-fish

Building ComeUnity.

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

While watching a TV show about a group of people in Alaska working together as a community to survive the great dark winter months, I was struck with the importance of community. Here in this freezing cold dark part of the world community is vital for physical survival! If you don’t catch enough fish in the early months, then I don’t eat! If I don’t grow and preserve enough vegetables or fruit, then you don’t eat! If I let my cows be eaten by bears, then there is no milk or cheese, etc. Then I look at most of us here in US in our cities with stores where everything we need is available throughout the year. The need for physical interdependence is really not there. It alters or even eliminates our need or desire for community.

We know that in the bible community is very important. In fact at our church, New Hope, it is one of our five purposes — to “Build Community.” But what does that look like and why is it important? After all, I have around 400 friends on Facebook and many of them are Christian and a large portion of them attend my church. We meet together once a week on Sunday morning from 10:30 to 12:00 and then enjoy some visiting afterwards for about 30 minutes. Isn’t that enough?

One of the things that strikes me about community in the bible is the fact that it is quite often connected with eating! Sharing a meal together was a very important part of community. In fact the Greek root of the word “companion” has to do with sharing a meal together. Throughout the bible (from old testament feasts to sitting on a hill eating bread and fish together in the new testament) community is often centered around a meal. Why is that? Well, the obvious reason is that we when we eat together we are sitting, looking at each other, and forced into some conversation. I know that is usually hard for us (most of us anyway). While in Europe I noticed that in some restaurants people actually don’t mind if you sit at their table! That would seldom happen here. By in large we are isolationists. My comfort zone is important to me. Don’t bust in! I’ll text you if I need you for some reason.

I’ve discovered the fruit of isolation spiritually is disaster. The opposite also seems to be true. The more built up in community we are the more spiritually developed we become. The more we disconnect the harder and darker our lives can become. Community is vital for our spiritual sanctification! Sanctification is a theological term that basically means our ability to overcome the power of sin in our lives. I need you to help me walk in light and be victorious in my life. And guess what? You need me as well! We can’t stand in isolation! We are placed into the BODY of Christ. Yes, universal but also local! We are the church, a community of believers growing together in Christ, helping each other stand! Encouraging each other to grow and overcome. One mistake we make is to think that this can take place in an hour and a half setting on a Sunday morning! Listen, there is no way you’re going to build community with me nor I with you in that short time frame! No way at all! Never mind that a large portion of us only hit one or two Sundays a month! Then we wonder why our lives are falling apart! Where’s the Lord we ask? My marriage, my children, my life is upside down! Again I suggest, you can’t survive outside community! And like those folks in Alaska, if I don’t show up with my vegetables you don’t get any.

Community Mindset Shift
Here’s an idea. What if we stopped looking at community selfishly as in “why do I need it” and “what do I get out of it?” What if we stopped looking at community as meeting my needs and started looking at it as my participation meeting your needs? If I don’t show up then you don’t get what I’m supposed to bring. If you don’t show up to build community then I don’t get what God as given you to bring. You’re missing out on what I’m to bring and I’m missing out because you’re not there. And, of course, each of us are given gifts by the Holy Spirit. But if you are not committed to being built up in community then those gifts are not only left unused but others don’t receive the benefit! I can think that by missing church it only affects me, but I’d be so wrong. What I was given by the Holy Spirit to use in the community of believers goes unused. Wasted! Quenched! I’m stuck with a bag of “unused gifts”.

Community is vital for survival! The church is a community. The local church is a community. Unfortunately, we’ve been trying to build community with isolationist mindsets! What an overwhelming and impossible task that is! We need the Lord to change us. We are all significant in the body of Christ! Again, I not only need you, but you need me! We need to take the opportunity to build community — life together.

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