So what are your New Year’s resolutions? To get into shape? To quit a bad habit? To improve your financial situation? To read more? To visit a new place? Or how about this resolution: to delve more deeply into or join a Christian community? In the most basic sense, I propose joining a Christian community entails at least two activities. First off, it means weekly church attendance (at a corporate worship service). Secondly, it means joining a small group or community group.
Why is Christian community important, even necessary? Because God made us for community and without it we cannot flourish. Philip Zimbardo, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Stanford University says this: “I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them…”. Author John Ortberg, in summarizing 1 Corinthians 13 (which eloquently describes the power of love in community) puts it this way: “If I make a fortune, get the cover of Time magazine, and become attractive, comfortable, and secure, but have not love, I have rolled snake eyes. No matter how much I win, if I win it alone, I lose. Love is the ball game.”
So community is essential to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. In particular, we need one another to fight. This article is one in a series of articles that has sought to demonstrate that human beings are in a great battle. According to the Bible, God Almighty and his angels fight for us. Yet our greatest ally here on earth is Christian community, our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are the tangible expression of God’s love. Therefore Christian community is a gift, help and resource. Are you receiving and enjoying God’s gift?
I hope so because Christian community meets so many important needs in our lives: 1—ENCOURAGEMENT: “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thess. 5:11). 2—ACCEPTANCE: “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Rom. 15:7). 3—COMPASSION: “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Eph. 4:32). 4—HOSPITALITY: “Offer hospitality to one another…” (1 Peter 4:9). 5—ACCOUNTABILITY: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). 6—HELP: “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Gal. 6:2). 7—HONOR: “Honor one another above yourselves” (Rom. 12:10). 8—HEALING: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
Christian Community is not only important to humans, it is also important to God. God has invested himself heavily into Christian community. In fact, he sacrificed his son Jesus on behalf of the church, his bride (Eph. 5:25). We observe God’s passion for Christian community in the New Testament which paints a captivating vision for us. Eph. 1:22 states that the church “…is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Wow! Christian community is both the BODY of Christ and the FULLNESS of Christ. 1 Peter 2:4—10 provides five more images of Christian Community: 1) A spiritual house (2:5). 2) A chosen people (2:9). 3) A royal priesthood (2:9). 4) A holy nation (2:9). 5) The people of God (2:10). All this indicates that Christian community is God’s prized possession.
So what are you waiting for? Join a church that teaches God’s word and loves people. Plunge in and join a study group or service group. Get to know people; share life together. It’s the best way to fight the battles you face. And it’s the best New Year’s resolution you could ever make…and keep!