The anatomy of community
By Mike Augsburger
When I’m on a vacation, I’d have to say that my favorite day is the first day. The whole week spans before you, and it feels like you have all the time in the world. The sad reality, however, is once the vacation begins, the ending comes quickly.
I feel like that with a sermon series, too. We plan, read books, select a title, and push out promotional material. But after the first Sunday, the following weeks go very quickly. I’d considered doing a series on community for a long time, and alas, it has already come and gone!
Even though it is over, I pray that God used it in your life for your good and His glory. I pray that it helped us process God’s plan for spiritual growth within the context of community. Next week, we are headlong into a six-week series on the book of Habakkuk. Before we look ahead, though, let’s spend a couple moments and look back at the Together series.
Union and communion
Our God is a relational God. For all of eternity past, He dwelt in the perfect fellowship and relationship of the Triune Godhead. The purpose for creating was to bring His creation into the enjoyment of the Godhead.
How does that happen? For all of eternity, the Father has poured out His love and affection on the Son. When we believe for salvation, we enjoy union with Jesus, therefore, the approval of the Father upon the Son is (by our union with Him) poured out on us as well. So, how do we access those blessings?
Fellowship and groups
Our relationship with Jesus was never intended to be an individual sport. It is the ultimate team sport. Our union with Jesus means union with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Together, we are called the Body of Christ.
A limb of the body is of no use if it is disconnected from the rest of the body! A severed arm (yuck!) will be useless on its own and unable to enjoy connection with the rest of the body. An arm is only useful in relation to the rest of the body.
God’s plan for us to experience and enjoy Him is through the Holy Spirit using His Word in the context of Christian community. Colossians 2:19 sums it up when it says that from Christ, the head, the
“whole body is nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, grows with growth from God.”
Our relationships with other believers cannot be overstated. We quite literally serve for one another as the ligaments and tendons that keep us held fast to Jesus.
Some next steps
Maybe you’ve felt disconnected from church. Maybe you’ve felt disconnected from your walk with God. I believe the quarantines of 2020-21 contributed to dangerous spiritual alienation within the Body of Christ. It was a great reminder to come back strong and foster Christ-centered community with other believers.
The big idea of the Together series was: “True Christian community is that which stirs our obedience and affections for Christ.” Here are some ways that, going forward in 2021 and beyond, we can strive for this together:
- If you attend Sunday morning only, plug into a group! There are groups that meet during church on Sunday, Wednesday night classes, and home groups throughout the week.
- If you have been part of a group in the past but have taken a break, it’s time to reengage!
- If you are part of a group but haven’t been very committed, it’s time to strengthen that commitment!
- If you are part of a group but are just simply attending, it’s time to take a leadership role in helping to move the group forward in Christian community.
These are just a few ideas of many. The long and short of it is this: God’s plan for our growth into Christlikeness does not happen without engagement in Christ-centered, Christian community. Make 2021 the year of engagement for you and your family!