We Need Community

We need our brothers and sisters in Christ. God made His people that way, and He uses each of them for good in each other’s lives.

The New Testament calls this new community “the church.” It often uses familial terms to describe the relationships between the members of the church. “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18). “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). This means that the men and women in our churches are our brothers and sisters. Rather than sharing a bond of blood as we do with biological family members, our bond is the blood of Christ. It is a spiritual bond that transcends time and space, making our relationships with others in the church eternal.

 

We went to Alaska a few years ago to visit relatives. Our cousins asked what we wanted to do during our visit.

I immediately piped up, “Hiking!”

They talked about a few nearby trails, casually mentioning a recent bear attack.

“A bear attack?” I asked in a raised high-pitched voice. “Never mind, we don’t need to go hiking…”

One of the cousins responded, “We’ll be fine. The person who was attacked was out by herself. We’ll be safe because we are together.”

Created for Community

Do you ever think that life would be easier if we could do it on our own? Relationships are messy, complicated, hurtful, and more often than not, frustrating. The more complicated the relationship, the more appealing is leading a solitary life. But as the poet John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

In fact, it’s not by accident that we are “part of the main” rather than individual islands bobbing our way through life. God created us to be in community. It was His idea from the beginning. Prior to the book of Genesis, before Adam and Eve, before creation and the Fall of mankind, the Triune God existed. And God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—lived together for all eternity past as a community in perfect love, harmony, and unity. And we were created to reflect that eternal Three-in-One community.

When God first made man, He said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). God created mankind to be image-bearers, to reflect Him in this world. One of the ways we reflect God is by being in community with others. That’s why after God had created the world, the animals, and Adam, He said that one thing wasn’t good: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). It wasn’t enough that Adam had fellowship with the members of the Godhead. As an image bearer, Adam needed another human to reflect the community of God with Him. God created Eve out of the rib of Adam, forming the first human community.

The Church Community

Adam and Eve enjoyed fellowship and community with one another and with God in the Garden. Until the day they sinned. As soon as they took a bite of the fruit, they fell into sin and all their descendants after them. They were expelled from the Garden and the presence of God. Adam and Eve broke community with God and each other. Their relationship with each other changed from one of intimacy, honesty, and harmony to one of conflict blame, manipulation, lies, and distrust. This is the community experience into which we are all born.

But it’s not the end of the story. Jesus Christ came to redeem and restore what happened in the Fall. He was the One promised as our first parents exited the Garden (Genesis 3:15). He came to create a new community of redeemed and rescued sinners through His life, death, and resurrection. Through faith in Christ’s work for us, we have been adopted into the family of God and are children of the Father. We are united to Christ and grafted into the family tree, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). We are one of the promised children of Abraham, one of the countless stars in the sky, a grain of sand on the seashore that together makes up the people of God.

The New Testament calls this new community “the church.” It often uses familial terms to describe the relationships between the members of the church. “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18). “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). This means that the men and women in our churches are our brothers and sisters. Rather than sharing a bond of blood as we do with biological family members, our bond is the blood of Christ. It is a spiritual bond that transcends time and space, making our relationships with others in the church eternal.

A Transformational Community

Not only did God create us to be in community with Him and with others, but He also uses the community of faith to change us into the likeness of Christ. The Christian community is transformational. God uses our relationships with one another to encourage, equip, instruct, disciple, train, and provide for our needs. After all, we need each other.

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