Decidedly Academic. Distinctively Christian.
Written by Katie Dubransky, Groups Minister at Foothill Church
Community has become a bit of a buzzword in the past few years. Whether we talk about intentional community, missional community, or being surrounded by community…we are all talking about it and searching for it. This is a bit funny because it is certainly nothing new! Humans have been craving and searching for community since the beginning of creation. We can look back to when God created Adam in the garden and God knew that something was missing. Adam needed a companion, someone like him to share his life with. Even with the intimacy that Adam had with God in the Garden of Eden, God knew that it would be best for Adam to have a partner, someone like him. But, even though we all need it and want it, why is community so hard to be a part of? Shouldn’t it be easy when we know that we all need it?
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and the more as you see the Day drawing near.” This verse tells us that as we get closer to the day that Christ returns, our need for community will only continue to increase. We also need to fight for it and commit to making it a habit. We will not naturally drift towards each other, without even trying we will naturally drift into our own individualistic, isolating worlds and we need to fight that drift constantly and fight to make it a habit to meet together.
But, is all that we need just community? Do we just need any old group of people around us? How does that make anything better? Yes, it is a step in the right direction, but just having a group of people around you that you know doesn’t necessarily change anything. It doesn’t automatically encourage you, challenge you, or “stir you up to love and good works” as the verse in Hebrews calls us to. If you are a Christian, one who proclaims to love and believe in Jesus Christ for your salvation, then I would argue that you need more in your life than just people around you. You need to be in a body of believers, a group of Christ-followers. You need the church. And the church needs you.
When we read through the New Testament, it is clear that there is no such thing as a Christian who was not a part of a church body. In New Testament times, being a Christian meant that you were automatically part of a local church. There was a common knowledge and understanding that this Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. Oh how things have changed! In our current culture, it is easy (and common) to think that we can do things on our own, without a church or anyone else to hold us accountable. We can even watch “church” from our homes, by ourselves, without ever talking to another person! But when we isolate ourselves and our families and try to go about this Christian life on our own, we are missing out on a big part of the life that Christ has for us! By finding a church, and committing to show up and engage in what is happening in that church, we can find true community with other believers who are searching for the same thing. Community is not the only reason we are called to join a church, but it is a big benefit! Yes, the church can be messy and is certainly not perfect, but it is what Christ has called us to.
I love what the great theologian Charles Spurgeon says about the church,
“…the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers. The Church is the nursery for God’s weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family.”
If we are going to fight against bullying, racism, oppression and hate in our schools and our world, then we need Jesus and we need the church. Find a church that loves the Bible and commit to it. Make it a priority. Make your kids go. Fight for it to be a habit in your family. It isn’t easy, there are lots of things pulling and fighting for our time and attention. But it is important, and it is important enough to fight for. You need the church. Your family needs the church. And the church needs you!