A few weeks ago I looked at various aspects of how to make community work ie the importance of humility, taking the initiative to serve and taking the initiative to resolve conflict. However, the centrality of the cross is the most important element in making community work.
Some people quite excited by the idea of ‘missional community’. They have high ideals. They want to recreate something of what was going on the New Testament or at least revive some of the dreams they had when they were young. For others ‘missional community’ seems a bit odd, even a bit threatening. The idea of people being intimately involved in your life worries you. It feels a bit intrusive. And for others ‘missional community’ sounds a bit of joke. They have been hurt by past conflicts in the church. Missional community sounds fine as an ideal. But does it bare any relation to reality. What about real communities with real people?
To dwell above
with saints we love
will be eternal glory.
To dwell below
with saints we know,
well, that’s another story!
Remember God’s grace to them
I remember my father reminding me, when I was expressing some exasperation at someone, that this was someone for whom Christ had died. The people in your missional community are the people for whom Christ died. Christ loved these people so much he gave his life for them. How can you despise them? Or avoid them? Or wish them in another church? Christ sweated blood for them, he took the lashes for them, he bore the taunts for them, he took the nails for them, he was cut off from his Father for them.
Remember God’s grace to you
Jesus tells the parable of a man who man was forgiven a vast debt and who would then not forgive a small debt owed to him (Matthew 18:21-35). He ends up with nothing. Remember the great debt of yours that was nailed to the cross. Remember the great gift that God gave to you. Let that be the measure of your love.
This is what makes community work. Not purpose-driven strategies or communication skills or anger management techniques or gender- and race-awareness training. What makes community work are people who never loose the wonder of ‘the incomparable riches of [God’s] grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:7).