Community as identity

The church is not a building you enter. Nor is it a meeting your attend. It is not what you do on a Sunday. To be a Christian is to be part of God’s people and to express that in your life through belonging to a local Christian community.

Our belonging

We belong to one another (Romans 12:5). If a car belongs to me then I am responsible for it and I decide how it should be used. If a person belongs to me them I am responsible for them and I am involved in their decisions.

Our home
Peter says Christians are ‘foreigners’ = ‘without home’ in the world (1 Peter 2:11). But we are being built into an alternative ‘home’ (2:5).

Our family

Families eat together, play together, cry together, laugh together, raise child together provide for one another. Families argue and fight, but they do not stop being families and they don’t join other families because they have different tastes in music or reading. With family you can take off your shoes and put your feet on the sofa. They provide identity and a place of belonging.

Family is one of the most common New Testament images for the church. So try re-reading the paragraph above, substituting the word ‘church’ for ‘family’…

Our community

The New Testament word for community is used to describe sharing lives (1 Thessalonians 2:8), sharing property (Acts 4:32), sharing in the gospel (Philippians 1:5; Philemon 6) and sharing in Christ’s suffering and glory (2 Corinthians 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:13). Helping poor Christians is an act of ‘community’ (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13). Christians are people who share their lives with one another.

Our joy

How would you answer this question? ‘For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes?’ Paul says to the church in Thessalonica, ‘Is it not you?’ (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

Implication #1: ‘We’ not ‘I’
We need to say not ‘I am planning to …’ or ‘this is my ministry’, but ‘we are planning to …’ and ‘this is our ministry’. We need to say not ‘you need to … or ‘the church doesn’t meet my needs’, but ‘we need to …’ and ‘why don’t we do this’.

6 thoughts on “Community as identity

  1. Pingback: Community As Identity « Ichthus Ministries

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  3. Great post.

    “Families argue and fight, but they do not stop being families and they don’t join other families because they have different tastes in music or reading”

    I love the thoughts about commitment to and responsibility for each other. “Moving to a different church in a sense though isn’t leaving the family – it’s not moving to another religion. It’s just choosing to be with people who you can connect better.” Someone said something like this to me. I tried to talk about the gospel uniting people from different backgrounds, tastes and ideas around itself, and how this means compromise and rejoicing in the ways that other people are different to us because we love them and we love to see them filled with joy. (Or I thought that afterwards, at least!). But it didn’t really answer the question. When someone feels so different that they find it very difficult to engage with everyone else in the church – particularly in a smallish church – is it ok for them to move to a different local church?

  4. Tim this was very good… I would add, “How can you have a relationship with HIM if you don’t spend any time with HIM or HIS people.?” I mention to folks sometimes… that fellowship (participation in the Spirit together) only happens when intentionality comes from a heart of servant love…. not what I can get, but what is God doing and am I paying attention…

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