Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jesus community requires commitment

This thought has nothing to do with this blog. Though I think whatever community we've had on this blog has not done badly in this regard (to find "Jesus community" go here, and I'm sure you can find it other places as well), I'm thinking of the community God has called all Jesus followers to in this world. It is a community of loving God with all of our being and doing, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. It is a call to us as one Body in Christ our Lord, having the same Spirit, the same Lord, the same faith, the same baptism, the same God and Father of us all. Though our understanding in regard to these things differs in peripheral ways, the heart for us is the same in this glorious faith we have in Jesus our Lord.

Commitment is required for "Jesus community" to really flourish among us. It must begin in our families and out from that into our neighborhoods, in our church, and into all the world. Commitment first to Christ and the will of God in Christ, and from that, commitment to each other in Jesus (these first two can be reversed as far as one leading to the other), and from that, commitment to those who are lost, as well as poor and broken. In all of this we begin to see the difference that Jesus makes, for that is what "Jesus community" is, Jesus making all the difference among us.

Commitment means we each follow, seeking to follow Christ together as we're called to do. It means we seek to do so in every part and parcel of our lives, in prayer and in Scripture and in listening to God's voice through each other.

So much more on this, I'm sure. What can help us fill in this picture from any of you? Maybe a good story.

15 comments:

Charity Singleton said...

Ted -- Building true community does take commitment -- and I think that is why so many churches seem to lack it. The commitments are tough and require a lot of self-less choices. In my own life, I find that my commitments to other issues besides Jesus sometimes take on more passion and sidetrack me for a time.

L.L. Barkat said...

If we thought of each other more in this way (that each could bring the voice of God), this would be a great first step towards community building.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, Excellent points and I'm afraid all too true. We're willing to do church as we've done it. But there is much more to it and really involves taking on a lifestyle if we follow through. And I'm not there yet, though I long for more and true community. And yes you're right, other passions can get us sidetracked, often legit in themselves but becoming obstacles to God's work in Christ in the world.

Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, In what ways do you believe churches need to build community, or in what ways do you think this can be done?

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Good point. This reminds me of the one place in the New Testament where something of the order of a church gathering is given with some detail: 1 Corinthians 14. I think we're not set for this dynamic of the Spirit very well, though I believe in "noncharismatic" (actually a misnoamer) churches this can occur as we share together in smaller groups.

I like the emphasis to be on togetherness, but also with reference to mission. We're together in mission in Jesus to the world. A "missional community".

Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Do you see any of this practiced and in what way (i.e., listening for God's voice in each other)?

Charity Singleton said...

Ted -- Ironically, I think we can build community best by not focusing on it. Helping people find the place where they can best use their gifts, giving people opportunities to serve together with people not always like them, and giving people permission to have fewer commitments to fewer people seem like ways we can deep with each other without all the burdens of activity.

But I do think we also need to be taught about sacrifice and hard work as a community. Maybe a sermon series through Paul's post scripts, where he names people and often challenges them in their relationships with other, would be a good place to start.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, I like your point: really working at having true community on a smaller scale. And I think this begins at home but goes from there, especially to people God may put into our lives.

And good point too about activity. We can activity ourselves to death, even in (should I say sometimes, especially in) our churches. And we're busy just maintaining that wheel but maybe largely missing the point of our life in this world in Christ.

Thanks for your response and thoughts!

Alan Knox said...

Ted,

If I can add something here about community... I've been thinking about community for a while, as I know that many how. I've been thinking about ways to try to create community or encourage community formation.

Community is built on something. The word itself points to a commonality shared among a group. We can create community based on location, personalities, talents, etc. But, I don't think this is the type of community that we need.

Instead, we need community that is based on our common relation to God through his Spirit. Thus, I think, in order for us to find community in God, we should focus on our relationship with God, not on the community itself. I think, if we focus on community, we will not end up with the kind of community that we want. But, if we focus on God himself and living in his love, we will find community with others that are also living in his love.

I hope this all makes sense, and isn't too rambling.

-Alan

Ted Gossard said...

Alan, It does make plenty of sense and I appreciate it.

I keep hearing people say we shouldn't focus on community to have it, a number and not just on this blog.

I agree and disagree at the moment. At conversion we are converted not only to Christ but to his Church, his Body. Our commitment is to Christ and to his Body, other Christians.

I believe the "one anothers" in the New Testament do suggest an intimacy with each other that must be worked on together. You may have a society or dynamic that as each person works on their life in God they readily begin to share that life with each other. Good. But I'm not sure that this always follows, especially when one considers "church" as it is usually done and experienced by so many.

Just a thought and one that is not finished (although in a sense that's always true of our thinking in this life).

Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Alan, Feel free, of course, to respond and interact with what I said here. I may be missing something in what I'm thinking. (haha, well that goes without saying, though there is truth by God's grace in all we say, and it can be the truth needed by his grace, at the time). Thanks.

Alan Knox said...

Ted,

From reading your blog, I think we are probably very close on this, too close to argue about. I also think the "one anothers" are vitally important to community and they do suggest an intimace with each other that must be worked out, as you said. I would simply add that this community and intimacy and working out should be carried out through our relationship with God. Thus, our relationship with God motivates and empowers our relationships with other people.

-Alan

julie said...

We need to provide a place that is safe for people to be real about their fallenness/humanness while pointing them toward healing in the power of the resurrected Jesus. If people feel judged and rejected they will not feel a sense of community in a group, regardless of the other loving acts the group offers to reach out.
(I agree with the other comments too. We need to offer God: *our hearts in a surrendered lifestyle, *our minds in study, and *our hands/feet to serve others.)

Once we have those things we'll be a great community! That's easy enough, right??? :O)

Ted Gossard said...

Alan, Great point about our relationship and intimacy with God and that working out into our relationships in community. And thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

haha, Julie. Great points.

I do agree strongly about it being a place of safety and grace, of full acceptance of one another in love, and accepting the outsider with a heart of taking them into community, so that Jesus can reach them in that.

Thanks.