A Question of Community…

August 9, 2005 § 6 Comments

So, the past couple of days, cloewen has been talking about intentional community.

A lot of the responses seem to indicate that a lot of y’all would like to experience the unity and comfort of such an existance. So I was wondering. How many of you out there long for true community? And if so, are you aware of what it actually takes to live like that?

I, for one, long for community. Not necessarily a bunch of people all living in one house all together, but definitely a group of brothers and sisters who have “all things in common.”

The picture of fellowship that is painted in Acts and the Epistles is one of tight knit fellowship. They relied on one another; spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially. So much so that in Acts they were able to boast that there were no poor in their midst.

But this doesn’t happen automatically or spontaneously. Only through God’s Spirit can it happen in any real and lasting way. Especially in the US, the idea of rugged individualism tends to undermine the concept of community. The Western mindset is one that does not rely on anyone else, for anything.

But in Christ, we recognise our need and short-comings. It is in the context of community that our weaknesses can be compensated for by brothers and sisters who are strong. Conversely, our areas of strength can build up and give blessing where God intends them and to those with the greatest need. In community, what’s mine is yours, and all I have I give to you in your need, and I can rely on you to supply my need. God fills all to overflowing so that each can bless the other.

Anyway, I was just wondering where all of you were in terms of thinking about such things.

Do you long for unity as it is described in Chirst’s prayer in John 17? To serve your brothers and sisters and the lost around you side by side in life sustaining and overflowing love? It takes sacrifice, but the sacrifice is what God is trying to pry our fingers from anyway: our creature comforts and old ways of life. This world, basically.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
John 17:20-26

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§ 6 Responses to A Question of Community…

  • elsbet_vance says:

    I agree that there is a lot to think about. Letting go of THINGS is hard, but if things are between us and caring for other people, then the things have to go. If our dependence on things keeps us from depending on God, then the things have to go. And letting go of self is one of the biggest THINGS in the way.
    I have to admit, having all things in common kind of bugs me. Ultimately it is because I put things before people, which is WRONG. So what if I don’t get my book back, or my shovel gets broken, or the neighbor kids run over my flowerbed. The trouble is, I keep putting my me I in the way.
    I have a lot of changing to do on my own part before I’d be acceptable in such a community, sigh.

  • DT says:

    I have a lot of changing to do on my own part before I’d be acceptable in such a community, sigh.
    Well, since none of us are perfect when we come to Christ, so we should have patience with one another. It’s not about whether YOU are acceptable, but if your brothers and sisters are as committed to you as Christ is. It’s not like an exclusive country club. lol
    As long as you have an attitude of wanting to draw closer to Christ and be transformed by Him, they should be willing to work with your short-comings.
    See, it’s about submision really. Being submitted to Christ, but also to our brothers and sisters. Trusting them and being trusted by them. Not blindly, of course. But by the weight of Scripture, and through the work of God’s Spirit in each of us.

  • koinegeek says:

    Hey Dawn! Hope everything is going well with you and Matt!
    Interesting topic! My thoughts on it:
    To me, the parameters and dynamics of community are defined by the enclosing culture. A community in tribal-culture has much different dynamics than an online one, though they may share common mechanisms (ritual, communication, inclusion criteria, etc.). However a Christ-centered community is a meta-framework, one that doesn’t demand a specific set of cultural limitations. There can be small communities of online Christians, rural Christians, urban Christians, etc. What sets them apart is that these seemingly separate, diverse communities are bound together by the blood of Christ. Thus interactions between such distinct cultural communites are seamless and fluid (at least they ought to be!).

    Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples
    — John 13:35 (NLT)

  • DT says:

    Here’s where I get in trouble…
    Hey Rit! Everything is going well, thanks! Getting ready for school, and Matt’s getting settled, but all is peachy! 🙂
    However a Christ-centered community is a meta-framework, one that doesn’t demand a specific set of cultural limitations. There can be small communities of online Christians, rural Christians, urban Christians, etc. What sets them apart is that these seemingly separate, diverse communities are bound together by the blood of Christ
    Well, while this is true, I think we are called to be one step further. Peter calls us a holy nation and and a kingdom of priests. What is described in scripture is more than just a bunch of like-minded people hanging out and doing stuff together. We’re called to have our own infra-structure, and ways of settling matters. Heck, according to Paul, we aren’t even supposed to let the world settle our legal disputes among ourselves, but to handle them with the elders and within the Church.
    As the Manifestation of God’s Kingdom here on earth, we should be acting as one body, governing ourselves according to God’s Word, and setting up an alternate society– in answer to the World’s way of doing things. Like Isreal was God’s nation as a secular kingom, so we are to be through the Spirit a spiritual kingdom with Christ our only King.
    I know this may sound rather radical. But we are supposed to be called to a radical way of life. We are told to come out of this world– to not be of it. In order to do that , we need to pull ourselves a lot farther back than we have been willing to go thus far.
    That’s not to say we are not to be invovled with the world around us. The Amish have closed themselves off from the rest of the world. We aren’t to do that. We are to minister to the fallen and lost all around us, and provide them with a respite from the world that they know. We should be the welfare state– not relying on an imperfect worldy government to do and imperfect worldy job.
    We are called to so much more.

  • koinegeek says:

    Re: Here’s where I get in trouble…
    Heh, no troubles 🙂
    How I described the Christian community above is a rather weak representation of what I believe. I agree that we are called to so much more! I do agree with helping each other out and even keeping disputes amongst ourselves as much as we can. I even agree that we ought to be the ones helping the poor and needy, not imperfect governments. (hence why I tend towards Constitutional Libertarianism…). I guess where mine and your thoughts may not align is about setting up an alternate society. While I agree in part, I feel that God’s Kingdom is much more than a society. Again with the word ‘meta-‘, it’s a ‘meta-‘society. We are to be Christians in whatever society we’re called in, to live differently in the spiritual dimension, but still interact with the world by shinging our light and helping those in need. If we try to either separate ourselves too much or get too involved in earthly politics, we could fall into dominionism. I believe that’s too much of an earthly focus (give unto Ceasar…). Jesus established a new “Way”, a way that doesn’t matter what situation we live in, that calls all peoples of all nations of all cultures to a focus on God through the Cross.
    Perhaps you and I are speaking of the same things, but using different semantics?

  • DT says:

    Re: Here’s where I get in trouble…
    Perhaps you and I are speaking of the same things, but using different semantics?
    Yeah, I think so.
    While I agree in part, I feel that God’s Kingdom is much more than a society. Again with the word ‘meta-‘, it’s a ‘meta-‘society. We are to be Christians in whatever society we’re called in, to live differently in the spiritual dimension, but still interact with the world by shinging our light and helping those in need.
    Absolutely! We can’t help being where ever we are– the location and culture does not matter. It is our commitment to one another that truly makes the difference. It’s not about setting up our own little cookie-cutter communes. It’s about living freely and joyfully and showing this world what it’s like to NOT live under the Curse.
    If we try to either separate ourselves too much or get too involved in earthly politics, we could fall into dominionism. I believe that’s too much of an earthly focus (give unto Ceasar…).
    I do not involve myself too much in politics these days, even tho I used to be *very* political. VERY I see only trouble for those vociferous Religous Righters; you cannot force godliness on the world– the world’s gonna reject it. But I don’t believein withdrawing either– these are the frontlines, where the lost are. This is our place in the battle– on our knees, with our hands ready for service.

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