"Community" is a big topic these days. I wrote an article on it last week and on Sunday my pastor preached about it. I've also received emails about it.
Rarely do I write on the subject two weeks in a row, but I'm still thinking about this one. After last week's article, someone asked me what "community" is. It was a good question.
So, what is "community" in the biblical sense? In Acts we read about how the disciples of Jesus shared everything they had with one another so that no one was in need. Older versions say that they had all things in common. They had fellowship.
Now I can do fellowship. In many churches fellowship means food--good food. Many church people excel in making good food.
Somehow, though, I don't think that this is what the biblical writers had in mind. Of course sharing food (and recipes)d is part of community because that is what humans do; however, this phrase, according to Strong's Concordance, comes from a "primary preposition denoting union." Another word that may be more familiar to us that describes this is "companionship."
In companionship there is closeness or camaraderie. People like being together and there is a sense of being family. I think I sensed this the other day when my church grilled burgers at Music at the Junction. There were several of us there and we all got along. We had a common purpose--to raise funds and to be part of the City of La Junta as well as our church--and our group did a great job working together (a couple of us actually started grooving to the beat, but that's for another commentary). All of us really enjoyed ourselves.
Isn't that what the church is supposed to be doing? Working together for a common purpose? The purpose of the church is to tell others about Christ and to help disciples grow. In helping each other grow, we are supposed to build that familial sense, that camaraderie of brotherhood (and sisterhood) in Christ. We are to help each other and also be available to the community outside our four walls (this is a topic for another commentary as well. Many people tend to equate the "church" with the building rather than thinking of it as an abstract entity of people as described in scripture.). That sense of community comes when we all get along working together for that same purpose.