Thursday, January 04, 2007

community

I am blessed to be working among a community of "saints", or redeemed sinners, or "righteous" in Jesus- people. We have our issues and struggles, but by and large it is quite a blessing to have this fellowship, this sharing in community with other brothers and sisters during, for us in our part of the ministry, largely ordinary work.

Community is what God made us for. It is inherent in God himself, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When God created Adam, he soon said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make one that is a suitable companion and partner to complement and commune with him." (my paraphrase) And in the end we see a city, the new Jerusalem. Jesus also mentioning his Father's house in which there are many rooms, or plenty of room, in which he would prepare a place for his people.

To grow in the Lord, we need his Body here on earth. His Body of others who in turn need our contribution to members of it. This is why it is so important that we refuse to live in isolation. Not to say that we don't need our space, and some special space at times. But we must live in ongoing regular communion with the saints, if we're to really be experiencing the communion in God that is ours. Communion in God includes communion with his people.

So you may have to look for fellowship with another sister or brother in Jesus. And work at experiencing more of this in your gatherings as church, and beyond those gatherings. As well as extending communion out to others, all others, whom the Lord would invite to his table.

What is your experience of community? What are some of the difficulties encountered in seeking to live in or experience more of community? Or what other thoughts might you like to add?

8 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

I think that when we think of community, we too often visualize it as something we have with all the people we get along with and want in our lives. And it is that. But, maybe, and here's the bit about intentionality, maybe it's about connecting to our "Others" too.

Becky Vartabedian said...

When I was working in Student Affairs at the university, I had the opportunity to participate in a Kairos retreat. The Kairos retreat is an intentional opportunity in the sense that it is designed to create and unite a community through shared experiences and a common goal of "living the fourth day."

This retreat forced me to think differently about community and it gave me the opportunity to redefine community on a small-scale (my marriage, my family). I think college students--who are living the extension of adolescence in many cases--still lack a sense of belonging, and so I tried to help them re-think their communities. It turned out to have a profound effect on my understanding of what it means to be in community with others.

Michael W. Kruse said...

I think one of the barriers to community ironically happens when we make community the central focus. Robert Banks point’s out in “Paul’s Idea of Community” that word we interpret in the NT as fellowship (koinonia) is always used to describe the relationships that we develop because of joint effort in some common mission.

Charity Singleton said...

Much more sanctification happens in my life when I am in an integral community than when I isolate myself from others. And the Lord uses "Others" to up the ante. Learning to break bread with those I disagree with and have nothing in common is at the heart of the gospel.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Yes. The special bond we have in Christ and by the Spirit is evident when we fellowship with those that we may not see eye to eye on in various subjects, such as politics. Also we need to, like Jesus, extend our hand and hearts to those who are outsiders, so they too can come in to this table fellowship we have in the Lord. This is humanly speaking outside of our comfort zone, quite often. But in Jesus, can become a way of life, more and more, for us. The Spirit is gregarious in this sense, I think.

Ted Gossard said...

Becky, So good to hear about the experience you had. I think these kind of retreat settings can impact us far beyond just that time in how we live out our faith, and the priority we give to communion with God through community with each other.

If our gatherings just had more of that sense of really taking in people with our hearts and in practical ways. Making them feel "at home" with us. And we end up being just as impacted as they are, in God; maybe more.

Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Michael, Point very well taken. Community is not only for community's sake. We are missional in the triune God. And this commonality must be in the heart beat of who we are as community. Rich thought. Thanks.

(Been years since I read that book by Banks for seminary. Is a good one. I think I'd get alot more out of it now, than then.)

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, Great thoughts. I learn so much and am so blessed from others. We so much need each other, in the Lord, more than we realize.

And great point about the breaking of bread. This is the unity that we need to underscore and seek to live around. Not the dotting of every "i" and the crossing of every "t", or even close to that, in our theological understandings. Though it is certainly good to work at arriving to see what are the common beliefs (or the plot) central to the Story. And letting the asides be put in better perspective. Thanks.