Dwight Fletcher | How 'wi love strong' : in community - Part 1
Today we continue our Wi Love Strong series. Last week we introduced and affirmed that love is the most important foundation of our faith - love for God, love for each other and love for our world. Today, we want to dig a little deeper into God's plans for us to live as a true community.
Some people try to live a Christian life by themselves, away from any regular Christian friends or a church. But this does not work - neither for a Christian's own growth nor to accomplish Jesus' mission here on earth. The reason we can't practice authentic Christianity without fellowship is because fellowship provides the means for showing love. And love is at the very root of God's character. "God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them." 1 John 4:16 NIV
Jesus prayed, in John 17:22-23 MSG, "The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mindJust as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us ... ." Being in community draws us together, draws us to God, and demonstrates God to the world.
God designed us for community and there are four predominant ways that The Bible describes God's followers as a group. We are described as part of the Church, part of a family, part of a body and part of a flock.
a We are part of the Church
The biblical word 'Church' means "a gathering of people united by a common identity and purpose". It does not mean a building or physical structure. So we don't go to church, we gather with the church and we are the church.
b We are part of a family
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10 NIV. Family members care for, help and support each other.
c We are part of a body
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ." 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV. The parts of your body are interdependent. The brain, heart, eyes, knees each help the body to function well, and if removed, cannot function independent of the body. In a similar way, Christians need each other to function well and cannot survive when isolated.
d We are part of a flock
Christians are also described as part of a flock under the care of a shepherd. Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11 NIV. Each grouping of Christians has a shepherd or 'pastor' who is responsible for the 'flock'.
Through Christ, we are bound together in a community of faith. But how can we operate as a community of faith today? In the Book of Acts, the Bible recorded the history of the very first community of believers as an example of what the community should be like.
These men and women regularly gathered for worship, prayer, study and fellowship. This was critical for them because it wasn't easy to follow Christ in the first century. Times were tough and persecution was rampant, but the early believers were bound together into a community. They needed each other and this was the only way to survive.
I don't know if you have noticed, but in today's world, it still isn't easy for us to follow Christ and truly live for Him. We might not be persecuted but we are being bombarded on all sides with discouragement, temptation, materialism, unbelieving family and friends, unanswered questions and so on. We face so many obstacles in our desire to live for the Lord.
God, however, has not left us on our own to run the race and fight the battle. He has given us each other. So 'Wi Love Strong' in community.
The book of Acts revealed to us the proper focus of a community of believers. It is therefore a roadmap of the way forward for a community in any church. This is the way we can not only survive as Christians, but thrive.
The community of faith is crucial to our spiritual well-being because it is the place where we find special opportunities to share our lives with each other. We all have a God-given responsibility to reach out to each other so that 'Wi Love Strong'! God will also respond to our devotion to each other, but to get where the Lord wants us to be, we have to do what He prescribes.
I wonder if we could change our approach to church and our attitude about our role in the Church? I wonder if we could show the world how 'Wi Love Strong' throughout the body of Christ? Next week, we will look in detail at what a modern Church community, living by the Acts model, can look like and how we can live and love in community.