Language is ever evolving, no doubt. For some the process and change of language is a source of excitement while others mark its passing with exasperation. As I set about the task of writing today’s blog post I was hit with this reality.
Why? Because I started with a few phrases that were tumbling around in my head and as I researched the history/origins I read about controversies surrounding their usage to which I was previously unaware.
What each of the phrases had in common was community. Whether it was:
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
“Part of the team”
What they have in common is: community and belonging,
God made us relational. He created us to be in relationship with Himself and with each other. It isn’t just for raising children, winning games, accomplishing goals but we are meant for relationship in life itself. Scripture has a LOT to say about the purpose and role of a community of faith!
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to, “encourage each other and build each other up.” In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul admonishes the readers to live in harmony with one another, avoid division and be of like mind. Galatians 6:2 instructs to, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Right before this Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.” Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.”
Community, we find that in this unique way through Christ is know as koinonia:
fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation
1 Corinthians 12 gives more insight into how this deep fellowship (koinonia) is possible.
12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.
I’ve just spent the summer with a neat group of people and more fully experiencing koinonia. Our ministry team was a powerful example of how, through Christ, we can experience community as we join together with a common purpose.
But the challenge we all face comes in recognizing, no matter how great our summer, that the body of Christ is bigger than one group of people at one time, in one place. At camp it is easier to find our unified purpose, the commonality in Christ of the mission of camp allows us to open our hearts to God and to one another in an almost surprisingly deep manner. But the challenge is: the summer doesn’t last forever yet koinonia and our role in the body of Christ does not stop because camp has ended. The opportunity is before us all to open our hearts to people in the “rest of our lives” and extend koinonia with others in various “spheres” of our lives.
While it isn’t always easy to find, we do have a unifying purpose in life with other believers:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Jesus equipped us to live this command by sending the Holy Spirit and by unifying us in the body.
What would happen to the body if we only sought community with those that see, hear, act, and feel just like we do?
“15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?
18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!
Where would the body be?
And what if one of us was not able to give our all or wasn’t present in the community of koinonia in the Body of Christ? “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it…” Each and every one of us matters.
For what purpose does God place us as part of the community of believers in the body of Christ?
“13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
This type of community needs each of us, it was meant for each of us to be fulfilling our role for our growth and ability to love God, yes! But even more so, so that the WHOLE body can grow in love of God and in love of one another.
-Where has “community” through the body of Christ shown in your life in an unexpected way, unexpected people or at an unexpected time?
-How have you been holding back from giving your all in community with believers? Why?
-What has God equipped you to give?
I’m praying for you (us) tonight because I’ve seen the power that comes when a group of people come together in koinonia, united by the Spirit for one purpose. I feel the call of the Holy Spirit to deepen my willingness to connect with God by strengthening my role in the body of Christ and equipping others to do the same. I know that many don’t find their role important or even discernable (almost like being the appendix of the body of Christ) and I’m praying for you that God, through the Spirit, will enable you to see how he has equipped you for every good work that he has prepared in advance for you to do!