While we Americans sometimes take pride in our rugged individualism and independence, there are also inherent defects in that aspect of Western culture. God never designed His people to live and operate in isolation. From the beginning, God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 NIV84). I like to say that God has called us to “y’all in a ‘me’ culture.” So long, rugged individualism!
In our series, the fourth characteristic of a disciplemaker is to engage in community with other Christ-followers. Here are five marks of a biblical community.
- Interdependence. The one anothers of the New Testament reflect the interdependence that God desires in all our relationships within the various expressions of the local church. Primary among these is the call to love one another, encourage one another, and serve one another (here is a list of the one anothers if you’re interested).
- Authentic vulnerability. We only experience community to the degree that we walk in the light with one another. Hiddenness and the dangers of an unexamined life thrive in isolation. Celebration of each other’s strengths and protection of our weaknesses, on the other hand, are evidence of authentic community (see James 5:16 and Colossians 3:13).
- Transformation occurs in the fertile soil of community. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV84). Our character is formed into Christ-likeness (God’s desired outcome, according to Romans 8:29) through the restoring influence of other Christ-followers. The transformation experienced through community is worth the wrestling.
- Mission. When this kind of community happens in close proximity to people in our lost and broken world, it draws them to Christ. It’s the most attractive thing in the world to see a group of friends sharing life and resources with one another, being open with our real selves, and being changed as a result!
- Worship. When you have a community that reflects the four traits above, everyone involved is drawn into feelings, thoughts, and actions that praise and exalt God. Worship is a 24/7 experience when people operate in community as God designed.
While these marks of biblical community find expression in many local churches, they are also powerfully displayed in smaller groups of like-hearted Christ-followers, who interact and gather with one another for the purpose of knowing Christ and making Him known.
How has community made your life deeper and richer?