Why do something together when you can do it alone? There is something uniquely American about the idea of the Lone-Ranger Christian. The esprit de corps of the United States is that of Rugged Individualism. It seems an important metric for being productive individuals when we are able to do something on our own and not need anyone’s help. However, the more that people achieve the isolationism that they prize, the more that they see the terribly high cost – loneliness. People start to realize that the greatest emotional threat to them is actually that of loneliness. For followers of Christ, seeking to live a life of independence from brothers and sisters in the community of the Church should not be a goal. Rather, we are one body being fitted and joined together in Christ (Eph. 4:16). While we can’t force community on anyone, we can speak out against the dangers of isolationism and stand ready to model and implement meaningful community.
At Faith Church West we cultivate community, No one Alone (Core Value #2). Simply put, if someone comes to worship with us on a Sunday morning, we do not want them to sit alone. If the Church is a body of believers, then we should function that way throughout the week, but, most importantly, within our Sunday community. Agreeing with this is easy—living it out is much more challenging.
Why be in community?
There are many reasons to be in community, but I would like to offer the two most pressing ones from scripture.
First, Christ commands it. He calls us in His Word to be in meaningful community. So, even if we can’t always see the immediate benefit of this, we must take the path of obedience and ensure that we are operating inside of a community.
Second, you have to have community in order to grow in Christ’s likeness. You will need brothers and sisters in Christ to be in your life to help you grow in spiritual maturity. Without them, you will live in a metaphorical echo chamber. Hearing your own thoughts, repeatedly fulfilling your own desires until you spiral further and further into darkness, alone. Community with one another is essential to bringing light back to your life and for growing to become like Christ.
There are a few challenges that we all face when we decide to live in community with one another. We have to work hard to overcome these things. The following are three things that happen in community, and what we all need to do to overcome these:
1. Being in Community Means Being Vulnerable
If you are going to be in community with a body of believers, there will be times that it hurts. There is no way around it. On this side of Heaven, we live with sin and we are affected by it every day. We sin against each other all of the time. We gossip, we complain, we say unkind things, and so on and so forth. However, the power of forgiveness, as we reflect back on the cross, makes living in community possible. Yes, people will hurt you, but because of what Christ has done, you will be able to live in community and you will be able to grow out of the hurt.
2. Being in Community Means Dying to Self
There is no way to effectively live in community and not die to yourself. If you try to live for you, you will only cause more and more issues. Each day that you are involved in the life of others, and have them involved in your life, you will need to die to yourself. Your preferences, wants, desires, and so on will need to be put aside (death to the lusts of your flesh) so that you can live in effective and loving community.
3. Being in Community Means Caring for Others
It may not be hard for you to see the need of being in community or that you will need to die to your own desires, but the hurdle of caring for others may be greater. Taking time from your busy life to care for others and help them in their life (ranging from meeting physical needs to spiritual growth) will take all that you have. It will take your time, energy, and even, from time to time, your money and resources. Being in the community that Scripture calls Christians to live in means that you will have to take up the burden of carrying for one another (Gal. 6:1-2).
Reject the individualism and selfishness that is so prevalent in our society. Let us take on the joy of living in community with one another and ensure that anyone who attends our congregation is not alone. Let our community speak to the world around us as something that is different and special. As they look in and see people from all different walks of life, may they see something so different that it can only be explained by the Risen Christ and the church that He is building.