Christian Community is a Gift
As we prepare to kick off our summer community groups, we’re excited to see how God will use these weekly groups to deepen our love for Him and one another. With this expectation, we’re reminded that Christian community is a gift from God. Community groups are another opportunity for brothers and sisters to come together and remind one another of who God is and what He has done for us in Christ granting us a new identity by His grace.
According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer this is the goal of Christian community:
“…they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation. As such, God permits them to meet together and gives them community. Their fellowship is founded solely upon Jesus Christ and his alien righteousness.”
As you prepare to meet with your group, pray that the Spirit will continually remind you to look around and be astounded that we are all sinners saved by grace, and that each and every one of these people is loved by God. Whether we confess sin, share burdens, encourage, or have fun with one another, God uses community to deepen our understanding of the unique facets of His goodness and love. With this understanding, the gift of Christian community will be received and relished.
Christian Community is Centered in Christ
Community is not an end in and of itself. We don’t build community for community’s sake. True Christian community is centered on Christ. Bonhoeffer writes:
“The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Jesus Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, and for eternity.”
As you approach your time with your group, pray for a genuine desire for self-centeredness to fade so that what is left in us and in our groups is the bond of Christ and the fellowship we have with Him. When this happens, we will taste the sweetness of Christ centered fellowship. As we grow in our love for Christ, we will then grow in our love for one another (not the reverse).
Christian Community is a Journey
As those who still wrestle against besetting sins, carry with ourselves the wounds of the past, we find that intentional community is a journey. As we walk alongside one another, we slowly bear the fruit of patience, gentleness, kindness, and humility. But these fruits don’t happen overnight. It’s a process, a journey. Here are three things you can do to help the process move forward and promote the beauty of the journey:
One is to be consistent as much as possible. When we show up regularly we allow ourselves to be known and get to know one another. Secondly, be committed to being open and engaging well with your group. This might mean speaking up for some, and speaking less for others. It might mean asking a deeper question to truly understand. It might mean sharing a story of how God has worked in your own life. Know that the Lord wants to use you to build His people up. Thirdly, cultivate your own relationship with God. If you are filling yourself up with God’s Word, keeping your heart tender through prayer, and humbly walking the path of daily repentance and faith, you will arrive to these times ready to be an encouragement through the encouragement you’ve received. Once again, this is a journey sustained and furthered by the Holy Spirit’s work in us.
We hope you’ll join one of our summer community groups, and know by experience the depth and breadth of God’s love.
Quotations are from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic work Life Together.