“Especially a Christian.” “Christians shouldn’t.” We say versions of these statements often. If truly honest, we’ve all been hurt by people inside the church. We’ve all been hurt by Christians or imposters of Christianity. In our hurt, we want to run, fight, avoid, attack. I think if our enemy was going to label this, he’d say, “Welcome some community.” Welcome the community that sees you. Welcome the community that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. Welcome the community that fits your lifestyle. Welcome the community that serves you without requiring anything of you.
But isn’t community a gift, even when broken people act broken? Christ could have left this earth leaving His mission to us as individuals. He could have left this earth solo focused on how I am to live my best life on my own. But He didn’t. He left this earth giving the mission to the church. Since I am a part of the church, the church’s mission becomes my mission. Since God knew in this life that broken Christians would still act broken (we are still in a process awaiting completion), He left us tools on how to live together. Community is a gift when pursued as Christ wants us to pursue. Why? Together we become more like Jesus. The church is a gift as we navigate this broken world.
The church is a gift to Christians who find themselves in a valley labeled divorce, death, debt, and division. Why? This all brings deep hurt to the Christian and the non-Christian. As we all deal with valleys, only the Christian has the benefit of the church to navigate through. Before we talk about what this ought to mean to me as an individual consider these verses:
Where do we see this in scripture?
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~Hebrews 10:24-25
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. ~Acts 2:42-47
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. ~Galatians 6:1-5
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. ~Romans 12:3-5
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good ~1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Other passages: Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 1, 1 Corinthians 12, Proverbs 19, 1 Peter 4, 1 Thessalonians 5
What should this mean to us as followers of Jesus?
A question to ask yourself: Do I have a community that is encouraging to my faith?
Community is to be pursued. The mission of the church is too important to flake out. Christians sin. Read those two words again. Now again. One more time, Christians sin. Is it ok? No. Is it to be expected? Yes. Will it impact you? Sin always impacts the people around us. Is Christ surprised? No, it’s why many of the passages above (especially Matthew 18), help us deal with sin, offenses, and division. All of 1 Corinthians deals with church unity.
I’m a Red Sox fan. At some level, because we agree on that, I’ll defend you a little more than most. At the end of the day, I’ll bail on you because allegiance to a sports team is really not that important. Bail on the church? No, this is way too important.
Do you feel the need to bail on someone or the church at large? How can you glorify God with your next step? Do you have a community that is encouraging your faith? No? How can you find a community like that? If it’s not your family, a life group? A group message with people you serve with? Doing a YouVersion reading plan with a few others?
The church is a gift to the Christian as, together, we attack the mission Christ has given us. Satan hates the church. Don’t join him. We are better together.
Got any helpful resources?
Yup, check it:
What is one practical step I can do this week?
Many of Paul’s recorded prayers are heartfelt prayers for the church. In Matthew 18 when talking about church restoration, Jesus tells us to seek Him.
So what is the best thing you can do right now? Pray.
Have you stopped going to church? Pray. Navigate your feelings through prayer.
Are you a part of division? Pray about YOUR role in it.
Are you in a community that is encouraging your faith? Pray for those who encourage you.
We pray about what is important, church community is of great significance. We should start pursuing God’s community by coming before God Himself.
Then pursue Christian community with integrity.