Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the church being a community. I have always believed it to be true, but I don’t think I ever fully realized what that really means. I’ve looked in the Bible and gleaned some things from the book of Acts, but perhaps the most impactful information I came across was simply through reading the definitions of the word “community.” Here are a few things I discovered.
A community is a group of people living together. It sounds simple, but in reality it’s not easy. When people live together, they really find out what other people are all about. In that community you will see the good things, the bad things, and even the ugly things that make up the personalities and lives of folks living with you. Living together gets messy because there is no room to hide. Everyone sees everyone else just as they are, good and bad. In the church, it’s critical that we understand this simple truth. We should be living together. This means showing up, helping your church neighbor get through difficult stuff, and even sacrificing your time and resources to help them.
When Cathy and I got married many years ago, we obviously started living together. Before that we were in love, dating, spending time together, talking on the phone all the time, and generally being consumed by the growing love relationship. But when we started living together, many things came to light. Cathy quickly learned that I tend to leave my dirty clothes lying around. I learned that she squeezes the toothpaste right in the middle. They may be small, but these little things (and more) really taught us to accept each other even when we were irritated. Through that, our relationship and love grew stronger.
I think in the church it works the same way. We may see things in others that irritate us, but we will also see many things that we love and appreciate about our fellow church friends. In the end, we want to grow to love each other and have great relationships with those in our local church. We have one central relationship that binds us together. This is our personal and alive relationships with Jesus. When we realize that we have all received a great measure of grace through Jesus, we will want to extend that grace to each other. Through grace, we can create and build strong, loving relationships. The church is a community. Let’s really live together.