Community within the Bride of Christ

This week my family and I have again been blessed by our church family.  Specifically by my small group of close friends who know what is going on in my life and the lives of my family members.  Over the past 12 years I’ve been blessed by these women, to serve with them, pray with them, learn with them, cry with them and rejoice with them!  We are learning while we are living how to do community God’s way.

One of the wonderful blessings of living in community is having others pray on your behalf.  It is such a faith builder to see your request for specific prayers answered so sweetly.  To be covered with such peace and contentment when circumstances would dictate there should be none of that for you; the power of prayer, God’s glory and power displayed in your life.  All due to the prayers of others for you.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

But community doesn’t just come to you.  My family and I have moved around the country.  We have had to start over and over again in new locations.  I learned that I have to be intentional to find a church that is Bible based and filled with God’s Spirit to call our home church.  In some places that took quite a bit of searching.   I’ve had to invest in others, and be a friend, in order to have friends.  I’ve invested in some who only take, and in others who only want to give.  Then there are those who have taught me how to do both with great grace, giving glory to God.  This is all part of living in community.  We learn and we teach.  We love and we are loved.

Through all of this, God has taught me to be discerning.  As much as I’d love every church to be filled with mature Christians, I have yet to find one that is like that.  Obviously, if a church is alive and growing, there will be faiths of many different levels.  Not everyone is trustworthy.  Discernment and grace are vital to a healthy Christian life.  Jesus used these skills as He was selecting the disciples.  It is only Jesus who can change a person’s heart.  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we can encourage, support, hold each other accountable, but without the foundation of our relationship with Jesus Christ, we all walk around with hearts of stone.

Church is the place where we are supposed to walk out what we learn in the scriptures.  It is where God has set the accountability factors for our faith.  It is where His discipline is supposed to be implemented as we prepare His bride for the day when He comes to get her.

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 3:16-17 ESV)

God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13 ESV)

But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:5)

Sadly, we have much progress to make in this area.  Lord, forgive us!

I pray that you are in a church that teaches rightly the word of God.  I pray that you will find a community of believers who love the Lord enough to obey His commandments.  I pray that you will be that Christian community member who learns how to confront, lovingly with great grace, those who have walked into sin, to restore them to a right relationship with God.  I pray that you each will learn how to speak the truth in love for the sole reason of preparing God’s bride.  We are better together when we walk in God’s ways.

Christian community is sloppy and painful at times as we are learning how to get it right.  And when we do, God is glorified, others are drawn into the faith, and the angels rejoice in heaven!

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10 ESV)

Father God, Thank You that You loved us enough to put us into relationships with other believers.  Thank You that You are our example of fellowship.  Help us to honor and submit to each other in a way that brings glory to You alone.  Help us Lord build a community of believers that displays Your glory to this hurting world.  Amen.

Be a blessing to others.  Love them well.  Represent Jesus to all those around you.  Be intentional.  Be encouraged.  Press on.

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