Community and the Church

We need one another more than we understand and more than we often want to admit.  Human beings were not created to live in isolation. We need people to come alongside us, to support us and to speak blessings into our lives. Likewise, we should pursue community in order to love and serve others. We are blessed by God so that we can be a blessing to others. Jean Vanier writes,

In community people care for each other and not just for the community in the abstract, as a whole, as an institution or as an ideal way of life. It is people that matter; to love and care for the people that are there, just as they are. It is to care for them in such a way that they may grow according to the plan of God and thus give much life. And it is not just caring in a passing way, but in a permanent way. Because people are bonded one to another, they make up one family, one people, one flock.[1]

Community is vital to our spiritual growth because as we live life with others we face challenges that nudge us to depend upon God and invite him to change our attitudes, behaviors and thoughts towards others. Relationships in community require a level of commitment, transparency and patience, and when these areas are tested, we grow as a result. Boa writes, “God’s redemptive plan is to restore relationships on every level—with God, self, others, and creation—so that we will experience and express the shalom (peace, love, unity, harmony) of the Trinity.”[2]

God has drawn us to him and has gathered all who believe in him to be his kingdom people, the Church. The church is to function like a body, where all the parts work together. The purpose of the church is to worship and glorify God together as his redeemed people. We are to be God’s people in the world while loving and serving one another.  We are members of the family of God, and as a family we learn from one another, challenge one another, encourage one another and share Christ with one another. Furthermore, we are to extend this same nurturing and compassion to the world. We are to be salt and light in the world, to partner with God in his mission of reconciling people to himself.

[1] Jean Vanier. Community and Growth (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press,1989), EPUB edition, ch.1, “Community as Caring.”

[2] Kenneth Boa. Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2001), 417.

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