What should authentic Christian Community look like?

So after completing my blog post yesterday (I’m doing my darnedest to obey God’s call for me to write), He kept speaking to my heart.  This blogging stuff takes a nice chunk of time.  But that is what we do when we are following Jesus.  You learn to stop and listen well.

It was Mary time.  (as opposed to Martha time)

Time to sit at His feet and listen a while.

For those of you who tend to be a bit on the Martha side, you’ll empathize with me when I tell you that I had things to do and place to be, but I sat and listened.  Actually, I kept moving and tried to listen (I’m still learning).  Picking strawberries for a friend, brushing my teeth (which I know everyone appreciated) and rushing off to my meeting.  That Mary gig can be difficult to squeeze in.  I mean seriously, I’d already sat for well over an hour.

Anyway, I did listen.  And am back at the computer listening and writing in my best attempt at obedience.

So here is what God was whispering yesterday and again this morning.

Community.  Real community.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 ESV)

We American’s have a very slushy, weak idea of what it really means to live in Christian community.  We need to live out what we see in the scriptures as they met together every day.  They ate together regularly (not once a quarter).  They were in each other’s homes.  They knew each other’s business.  They held one another accountable.  They were family.

Our women’s mentorship program encourages the ladies to meet at least once a week.  Many of our participants find it difficult to find a time to get together and end up meeting every other week or sometimes longer than that.  That is not what God meant for us.  He knows that we are better together.

Have you ever studied the “one another”s and “each other”s found in the New Testament?  Pray, encourage, build up, confess our sins, love, be devoted, honor, serve, bear with, serve, spur on, be hospitable, greet, forgive, etc.  They are about unity, love, and humility.  These are deep callings to community.

The best example I have seen in my lifetime is Taylor University.  I’ve only received an outsider’s glimpse in, yet what they are living out on that college campus is true community.  They have a life agreement that each student and faculty member signs agreeing to live a Christian lifestyle of community.  I would love to see our churches do the same thing as members join our congregations.  A commitment to each other in accordance with God’s Holy Word.

Oh beloved, we need each other to grow in Christ.  We are being built up together as the Bride of Christ.  We are all part of a body of which Jesus Christ is the head.  We are going to spend eternity together.  We have much work to do while we are still living on this earth for God’s kingdom, and we are stronger and more effective when we live in community the way that God intended.  They will know us by our love for one another.

Let us lay aside the old thinking of independent living.  Let us put on the new self and start intentionally building community by walking in God’s ways.  He has more for us.  Be encouraged.  Press on.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

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