Jessi Schlatzle, WRC Communications Committee Chair
Community is good! Even when community is unpleasant or hard, it is still good because God makes it good. It’s good because He designed it, He commands us to it, He is present in it, and He is faithful through it.
God Himself is His own triune community. He lives in constant fellowship with Himself; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit live in perfect communion. Obviously none of us is triune, so for us to have community like God has we must get it outside of ourselves. This is why we have the body of Christ, or the Church. It is God’s gift of providing us with a taste of the fellowship He experiences.
When we come to faith in Jesus, we enter the family of God. “So in Christ we who are many are one body, and each member belongs to one another…”(Romans 12:5) He sets us up as brothers and sisters in Him, so we can begin to experience true fellowship.
God not only designed community, He commands us to be part of His community. It is not an option to come to faith in Jesus and then to live a private spiritual life.
The Bible reminds us that as Christians we are to be actively involved in one another’s lives. Throughout scripture we are commanded to:
- Love one another (John 13:34)
- Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:5)
- Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
- Rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15)
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
- Carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
- Confess our sins to one another (James 5:16)
- Pray for one another (James 5:16)
(from Joshua Harris’ book, Stop Dating the Church)
You simply cannot do these things alone; you must be present with the Church.
This is where the flashbacks begin. In my experience with the Church, I have had other Christians encourage me, thank me, pray for me, and support me. But I also have memories of times when I was ignored, unappreciated, uninvited, and not needed. Of course, there are memories of me sticking my foot in my own mouth, too! The reality is that the Church can be a place where great things happen as well as a place where we get hurt. God lives in perfect communion, but God is perfect. We are broken, sinful people and our communion is going to have some broken, sinful moments.
The good news is that relationships in the Christian community are not merely between broken, sinful people. Our Almighty God is also in communion with us!
“Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am among them” (Matthew 18:20). “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)
So, He hasn’t left us to hopefully figure it out and suffer through it. He is at work in and through us! “From Him the whole body is fitted and held together by every supporting ligament. And as each individual part does its work, the body grows and builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)
God is faithful. He has not brought us into His community only to leave us in our mess. He has brought us in to work out many good things, albeit sometimes through trial. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2)
But whether it is smooth and pleasant or difficult and trying, we can be confident that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6) Therefore, “commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do it.” (Psalm 37:5)
Community is good, but the only way to experience how God makes it so is to step into the Community of Christ and take part. Don’t expect it to be perfect, but do expect Him to work in His perfect ways. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
Jessi Schatzle lives in Southern Illinois with her husband, an EPC pastor, and two kids, Davis and Josephine. She homeschools, co-leads the women’s ministry at Hope Church, is a portrait and wedding photographer, and loves spending time in the great outdoors.