Webster’s Dictionary defines COMMUNITY as “a unified body of individuals.” It goes on to give examples that community could be people who live in close geographic proximity, people with common interests or beliefs, or people with a common heritage or history. Community is also defined a joint ownership or participation, a common character or likeness, and social activity or fellowship.
So, who is your community? Maybe you’re in multiple communities. Church, neighborhood, family, school, work, social clubs, exercise groups, service organizations, support groups, etc. What are the common characteristics within each group?
This week we’re focusing on the 2nd key to A Better Change – Living in Community. We’ll look at Christian community in particular, where “Christian” defines the likeness and characteristics the group reflects. Christian community isn’t only your church.
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Let’s start by looking at the earliest Christian community and see what set them apart.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:43-47 NIV)
What are the key characteristics that define this Christian community?
Bible Study – They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching.
Worship – The devoted themselves to the breaking of bread and praising God.
Prayer – They devoted themselves to prayer.
Serving Others – They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
Fellowship – They devoted themselves to fellowship, eating together in their homes with glad and sincere hearts.
Meeting Regularly – Every day they continued to meet together.
Now, think about the communities in your life. Which ones share these characteristics?
My life group comes to mind immediately when I read this list. This is a group of women at my church who meet for lunch on Mondays. We do a Bible study based on that week’s sermon, but we also spend time getting to know each other and sharing what’s going on in our lives. We pray for each other, support and encourage each other through life’s struggles, and praise God together for all the ways He’s at work in our lives.
I sat in our life group this past Monday and marveled at the transformations God is orchestrating in each woman at the table. How we’ve each changed over the years we’ve been meeting!
How is the support from a Christian community different from any other community?
Immersing ourselves in study and worship is how we learn our heritage and history. We learn who God is and who He wants us to be. As we build our knowledge and grow closer to God, we begin to reflect Him to others. What else can you study that will change your heart in such profound ways? You are loved wholeheartedly and unconditionally by God. God’s grace covers all our sins. God has a plan and cares for each of us. God is in charge and has bigger and better plans than we could ever imagine.
Spending time together on a frequent basis builds relationships with each other. We’re not just in a class to study, but we’re getting to know each other. The more time you spend with someone, the deeper you get to know them. By sharing our lives, we’re better able to support and encourage each other in just the right ways.
Praying and serving are ways we put faith into action for each other and for the world around us.
Community is more than a social club, more than a study group, more than a prayer list.
We’ll talk tomorrow about ways you can begin to build this into your existing communities. You may also want to look for a new community to join.
Do you have this type of community in your life? What are its key characteristics?
This post is part of the “A Better Change” series. For more information on this series and to find related posts, click here: A Better Change Series – Overview
[email protected] says
Love this! Love this! How we yearn for this kind of heart-shaped community … those verses in Acts surely do lead the way.
Thanks, Kathryn … what a great way to end this sabbath.
Julie Lefebure says
Great thoughts on community, Kathryn! I’m reminded how important my communities are to me tonight after reading your post. Thank you! Have a blessed week!