We live in a culture that is devastated by individualism and isolation.
· 27.2 Million People live alone in the U.S.
· More people say the feel alone than any other time.
· 25 percent say they have no on they can turn to as a confidant.
· More people link their depression with loneliness than ever.
*According to a study done by Duke University and the US Census
These stats are alarming, especially within our social media crazed society. We are more connected than ever, yet we are as isolated as we have ever been. Isolation has no prejudice and makes its way into our churches in the form of individualism on a consistent basis. It’s the attitude of “This is between me and Jesus.”
This mentality makes it challenging for us to appreciate the necessity of community. The “One Another’s” threaded throughout the New Testament should convince us that a solitary faith is not a Christian faith.
The problem is, you can’t choose Jesus and not choose the church. They are a bundled deal. And by church I don’t mean a group of people you sing songs and listen to a sermon with once a week.
That is certainly one of the valid expressions of church and one we should be consistently involved in, but going to a service once a week is not walking in biblical community. Community is more than a Sunday.
Biblical community is the group of believers with whom we walk through the good, the bad, and the ugly of life while digging deeper into the gospel.
A SOLITARY FAITH IS NOT A CHRISTIAN FAITH
Recently a very popular Christian writer wrote a blog post on why he rarely attends church anymore. His rationale was that he had “graduated” from church and had found other ways to connect with God. Specifically, he said that it was through his work that he found his deepest God-connection.
Though I understand the sentiment, it is not remotely close to being biblical. Throughout the New Testament, particularly in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, we see that Christ-followers are all given different gifts (serving, teaching, exhortation, etc.) to exercise within biblical community. Every place in Scripture where we observe a spiritual gift, we always find it in a collective list with other spiritual gifts that other individuals may possess.
Spiritual gifts are not about individuals but purposed to build and edify the church and its mission. This means that the church is designed to be interdependent, working together toward one uniting mission. If one rogue member “graduates” from the body, then the body will not function with one another as it should—and the rogue member won’t either.
There are many aspects to what biblical community could and should look like but I want to give four simple aspects of community and what they should lead us towards as a church that lives on mission. A healthy community centered on the finished work of Jesus will center on the following actions:
· Confront. Lovingly confront the sin that is hurting your brother or sister.
· Confess. Confess sin to one another.
· Repent. Turn from sin to Jesus with communal accountability.
· Forgive. Receive forgiveness for our rebellion while forgiving one another.
The cross is where unity is made possible and where biblical community can truly grow.
As you walk in community with others and you begin to confront, confess, repent and forgive, you will collectively grow together in your understanding of grace. The cross confronts our sin, causes confession, leads to repentance and delivers forgiveness.
The cross is where unity is made possible and where biblical community can truly grow. Mission is but an overflow of living a cross-centered life, and living in biblical community is foundational to growing in the gospel. Without biblical community, the mission of God will not be carried out to its intended purpose.