God’s People in Community

This concept is so beautifully unique I don’t want to skim it. (Buckle your seat belts.)

How do you describe a community of people doing life together so well people are drawn to them in droves? There is no competition or hierarchy in the group. Everyone is fully equal, and that is never challenged. They are a close-knit group of people, so united they are like one, so loving they prefer one another over others outside the community. Yet, they are so warm and welcoming, newcomers are intrigued…and they are embraced. The group members are attentive to the specific individual needs within the group, and they meet those needs. No one goes without. Each encounter within the group means someone’s faith is grown and their relationship to God is strengthened.  The members sacrifice freely and deeply for one another in the group. While each individual has an appropriate, healthy autonomy from the group, the group is stronger and healthier for each member.

Utopia? It might sound like it. This community reflects the unity of the Trinity!

One of my favorite quotes from Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson is from Mark Shaw’s Doing Theology with Huck and Jim: “These ‘three distinct Persons live together in full, unchallenged equality, glad submission to each other [and] joyful intimacy with each other.'” This quote is what I was thinking about when I wrote about God existing in community. I kept turning over in my mind the scriptures that say “that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11, 22). So, our community with others should look like the community in which God exists.

Doing life with other people is tricky. None of us being perfect, there is a tendency to have some problems along the way. Can we find the main roots of some of our wounds while doing life with others? Maybe we can.

What if we…

Take out the one-up or one-down perceptions of relationships. Don’t be fooled into thinking there is a competitive hierarchy like the world fashions before our eyes. The Bible says “there is no favoritism” (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25). Can we set aside the lies we’ve believed about one being “more special” than another and get to the truth on this one? (Romans 3:23)

Gladly submit to one another. When I think about relating to people in this way, the word that comes to mind is deference. To have an attitude of deference means to honor others, to have regard for others’ wishes. The “s-word” isn’t a bad word! It’s beautiful when done well. Submission is probably hardest for us because it opens the door for those who would take advantage of us,and we know it. It means we choose not to control everything in a relationship, and that can be uncomfortable. It may mean the good of another temporarily supersedes our own. We might need to listen to the good and true counsel of others when it’s not easy. It might mean asking forgiveness for our poor choices and ending certain unhealthy behaviors. For our own health, and for the health of the community, it’s worth it!

I want to insert a quick note on glad submission. What it does not mean is as important as what it does mean. This in no way means we should perpetuate one-up or one-down relationships and maintain a “position” to others in that way. It is not co-dependency. It is not enabling others’ unhealthy behaviors in the name of submission. Things like this break down community. And, it’s ugly to those inside and outside the church!

Experience joyful intimacy in community with others. If our community with others reflects the unity in which God exists, then this is part of it. I wonder if the joyful part is circumstantially based. Do you think the intimacy part would only be based in common interests, skills, or culture? Would we continue to look at everyone with assumptions filling our heads, jumping to conclusions or solutions before hearing the heart? Would we associate with those in high positions and low–with joy? There is so much more to this, but these questions are a good start.

*Splash*

As I think about it, community done God’s way would look quite a bit different than what we often see. Now, how should our lives (and the lives of those around us) be different for exploring this. . .

*Ripple*

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2 Responses to “God’s People in Community”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Where does this concept of community originate? Certainly the idea was planted by Jesus in the book of John. The example of it lived out is in Acts 2. Or, read about “One Body, Many Parts” in Romans 12.

    Some things to read and contemplate… 🙂

  2. P* Says:

    Mmmm! Very well said!

    I’m thinking the concept began long before Jesus came…even “in the beginning”…:o) However, the selfishness of humankind always tends to throw a wrench in the flow of things. So thankful HE came to be our example of how to practically walk it out, in a genuine (not legalistic) fashion.

    Keep on splashing/rippling, my friend!:o)

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