If among you, one of your brothers (or sisters) should become poor (economically, physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially) in any of your towns within your land (your realm of influence) that the Lord your God is giving you (opportunity), you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother (or sister), but you shall open your hand to him (or her) and lend him (or her) sufficient for his (or her) need, whatever it may be. – Deuteronomy 15:7-8
What does real, authentic ‘Living in Community’ look like?
Should not ‘Living in Community” be a witness to show to the world, the lost, the wandering soul, the Christ-follower what the kingdom of God is meant to look like here on earth?
Matt Chandler writes, “The God we worship is a God Who has eternally existed in community. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have dwelled in perfect unity, love and joy before and throughout time. This triune God created humanity as the chief of His creations for the display of this relationship. In the beginning it was written, “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Man was walking in the garden with God and without sin and yet such a relationship was not ideal. It was not in accordance with the purpose of the Creator for the creature.
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis say, “It is our cross-love for each other that proclaims the truth of the gospel to a watching and skeptical world. In our experience people are often attracted to the Christian community before they are attracted to the Christian message.” Communities should model grace, love, forgiveness, truth, and identity.
Frances of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words. It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is preaching.”
Do take some time to reflect, meditate, examine yourself, and be brave encough to ask the honest questions …
Do you have (or desire) a heart that hurts with what hurts the heart of God?
A heart, which attracts friends, relatives, strangers into considering a redemptive, loving relationship with the living God?”
I challenge you (and speaking to myself as well) to read through the list below of qualities we are to show one another, because these verses inform us what biblical community looks like.
John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17 – “Love one another.”
Romans 13:8 – “Owe no one anything, except to love each other.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…”
Galatians 5:14-15 – “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Five times in 1 John the apostle writes that believers are to love one another. However, he does not leave the command in ambiguity. Rather, he qualifies the command by showing that love is best represented by the sending of the Son to die for our sins, therefore it is inherently sacrificial. We are to love in truth and deed and not merely in word. Love, which is not sacrificial, is really not love. Read 1 John 3:16-18.
Mark 9:50 – “Be at peace with each other.”
Romans 12:16 – “Live in harmony with one another.”
James 3:18 – “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
1 Peter 4:9 – “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Romans 12:13 – “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
1 Corinthians 11:33 – “When you come together to eat, wait for one another.”
1 Peter 4:10 – “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”
Galatians 5:13 – “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
John 13:14 – “Wash one another’s feet.”
Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Romans 15:14 – “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.”
Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 – “If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Ephesians 5:21 – “… submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11, Hebrews 10:25 – “Encourage one another.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Build one another up.”
Hebrews 3:13 – “Exhort one another every day.”
Hebrews 10:24 – “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”
Colossians 3:9 – “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices…”
James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another…”
DESIRE TO FOLLOW CHRIST – FELLOWSHIP – DOING LIFE TOGETHER
Acts 2:42 – “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.”
Acts 2:46 – “Every day they continues to meet together in the temple courts.”
Acts 4:33 – ”With great power the apostles continues to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,”
Fellowship can’t happen unless you are doing life together and doing it frequently.
TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY, AUTHENTICITY, AND GENEROSITY
Acts 2:44-45 – “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”
James 5:16 – ”Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – ”Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
John 13:34, 15:12 – Love one another.
Romans 12:10 – Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:16 – Live in harmony with one another.
2 Corinthians 13: 11 – Comfort and agree with one another.
John 13:1-20; Galatians 5:13 – Serve one another.
Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens.
Ephesians 4:32 – Forgive one another.
Ephesians 5:21 – Submit to one another.
Colossians 3:9 – Be honest with one another.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Encourage one another.
James 5:16 – Confess to one another.
James 5:16 – Pray for one another.
There is great transparency expressed in these verses. These believers weren’t concerned about image or consumed what others would think! They didn’t hesitate to openly bring their needs to the group. Generosity is seen as well as they put others’ needs above their own. What we see as a result is that accountability grows out of community; it can’t be forced! That I can only overcome my sin nature and talk to you about my sins if we are “one in heart and mind.” We also have to have a history of fellowship. I have and need to trust you! And you have to have my best interests in mind and heart.
COMPASSION – CARE COMPASSIONATELY FOR ONE ANOTHER
Galatians 6:2-3 – “Carry each others’ burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
Romans 12:10 – “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
Romans 15:7 – “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 12:25 – “… that the members may have the same care for one another.”
Transparency, accountability, and generosity are all contrary to our human nature. The temptation is to sit in judgment of each other when we are transparent, or, as we are being held accountable. Compassion must rule! Without compassion there is no real fellowship or authentic community!