There are so many needs in the church. And I am not just talking about in the building we call Riverlawn Christian Church. I am talking about needs within the body of Christ – church with the Big C. How can we possibly meet those needs? Well, the truth is, the corporate gatherings on Sunday alone cannot meet those needs.
What we need is honest community. It may be a life group or a Sunday school class or a bunch of guys who like to ride bikes on Saturday mornings or a few friends who love to knit. Community is, honestly, a feeling of fellowship with others. There are other definitions of community, of course, but for the sake of the church, community is more than just a gathering: it is a “feeling of fellowship.” Knowing people understand your ups and downs, your ins and outs, your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing there are people who care about your needs. All your needs.
Not just your physical needs – those frustrating financial needs, mechanical needs, child care needs and so on. But also, and perhaps even more importantly, I am talking about your spiritual and emotional and directional needs.
Let’s take a moment to see how true community (a feeling of fellowship) can really affect a body of believers.
- “As iron sharpens irons, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. Need I say any more. Community helps us move forward, toward the hope of one day being more like Jesus.
- “All the believers were together and had everything in common.” Acts 2:44. This is how you meet the physical needs of your community. The early church sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with anyone in need. Talk about benevolence ministry . . . Community helps us see the needs of others and then meet those needs.
- “Where two or more are gathered in My name, I am there with you.” Matthew 18:20. People sometimes misunderstand this verse, but in the context of community, Jesus’ words make it very clear. He is talking about coming together when we have issues with one another and taking those issues to the Lord. When we are together, praying with the one who has hurt us, Jesus will heal those wounds. We need community to heal our relationships.
- “Above all, love each other deeply because, love covers a multitude of sin.” 1 Peter 4:8. When we are really in a relationship with others, small or large community, we can learn how to love each other and overcome the sin that is so prevalent in this world, and even in our own lives. If you do not have that kind of community, forgiveness is hard to find. And we need to forgive and be forgiven by each other.
- “So, in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5. Because of Jesus, and for no other reason, we are one body and we belong to each other. We are united in Christ and we are dependent upon each other. Community allows us to really depend on one another.
There are many other benefits and joys to community, but I want us to focus on these five for the time being. We need each other to grow spiritually; we need each other to take care of our physical needs; we need each other to heal our relationships; we need true community to forgive each other; we need each other so we have someone we can depend on.
I know, the phrase “each other” is repeated over and over, but that is what community is all about. We need each other. We, none of us, is an island, we don’t live like an island, we don’t think like an island, we are not an island.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25