Community is a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.
Community can mean something different depending on the context that one might be speaking about it. I was thinking of community in context of the Christian Church. We have come to grow and be a part of varying church communities that are present in varying geographic communities. The community that the church is planted in is the community that the church is called to be a beacon of hope to. With the invention of social media and electronic broadcasting the church boarder has extended beyond the traditional 25-mile radius.
Given a culture has access to the Internet the church can now from one location reach the entire world. However, the Internet can bring a person choice, anonymity, and sometimes isolation. A person’s choice may be to listen to a broadcast or read a blog, but it is also the person’s choice to turn the broadcast off or stop reading the blog once it has reached the limit of their comfort zone.
There is something to be said about being able to come together with other people that gives us the ability to grow and transform into the creation that God has intended us to be. Community keeps us from becoming stunted in our growth.
The purpose of the Church is for a community of believers to do life together. We must not try to go through life alone. If we try a solitary relationship with God then we cannot only become stunted in our growth we can also become warped in our thinking. That is where other followers of Christ come into the picture. We must partner with other believers to help sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17) and to spur one another on to love and good works (Hebrews 10:25).
Church is not just one day a week for one hour on Sunday morning. Church is everyday and every night. Wherever we are it is there that the Church is. It is in our communities that God chooses to move. God chooses to move in our lives, homes, careers, and neighborhoods. God cannot move in the ways that he wants to move whenever he is left alone in a box. God wants to move in mighty ways outside the box. He wants to move outside the pre described norm that we have created for him and shake the world in unfathomable ways. If we the Church would be the Church outside the church then the Church and the world along with it would be radically changed.
Jesus said that we are “in the world, but not of the world,”(John 17:14-15). That means that we must be out doing the Father’s business in the world. The Church must run businesses honestly above reproach. The Church must handle social injustices by providing jobs, building homes, and providing education. The Church should not just provide handouts; the Church should provide hope and education for those less fortunate. An educated person about their situation can be able to come out of their situation into a greater situation where they will be able to be self sufficient. What a better way for the Church to show the love of Christ than to administer the personality of Jesus by providing for those less fortunate. The church should be able to give the world abundantly above anything that they could ask for or imagine. This includes giving them a way out of their situation and into a life that is able to provide for others in the same way.
Community is important. If we would be honest with ourselves we could say that we have been touched in some measure by the community that we keep. Community is a big part of our lives and we need it in order to maintain healthy relationships and business contacts. Community gives each one of us exactly what we need. Community gives us a place to belong. Many people look for it in too often the wrong places and find nothing but more brokenness and heartache. Community brings us closer to what God has designed us to be.
I would like to hear your thoughts! What are your comments? What comes to your mind whenever you think about community?