Godly Community — Part 3
So far in this series, we've reflected on the idea that humans are wired to need community and that Christian community should be noticeably different from other communities in the way it reflects the unique character of our God.
So let’s reflect on the character of God. I don’t normally give you homework on this blog, but I’d like to give you a short assignment. Take a minute and write down all of the actions that God takes toward his people. I’m looking for a list of verbs. What does God do? Here are a few to get you started:
- He loves (John 3:16)
- He comforts (2 Cor. 1:3-4)
- He forgives (Col. 3:13)
You don’t need to provide verses to support your ideas. Just brainstorm until you have a list of at least 10 actions that God takes on behalf of his people.
Now, consider this: are those the same actions that you are taking toward God’s people? If your community reflects the character of God, it will be marked by the same actions God takes.
Depending on how you translate the original languages, there are somewhere between 44 and 59 commands in the New Testament that include the words "one another" or "each other". You've probably heard these called the "one anothers" of scripture. Here are a few:
- Love one another. (John 13:35)
- Be at peace with one another. (Mark 9:50)
- Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
- Stop passing judgment on one another. (Romans 14:13)
- Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. (Romans 15:7)
- Serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)
- Carry each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
- Be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
- Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)
- Encourage each other. (I Thessalonians 4:18)
- Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)
- Do not slander one another. (James 4:11)
- Pray for each other. (James 5:16)
- Love one another deeply, from the heart. (I Peter 3:8)
I’d like to suggest that those 50 commands are the things that make for God-shaped community. Those are the things that make community that reflects God's character and is therefore better than community that humans find elsewhere in the world.
I guess this all comes back to WWJD. The Bible gives 50 suggestions for things you can do in community to honor God. You won’t master them all. But this week when you pray for your small group, or whenever they ring your doorbell for the meeting, think about acting toward them in the way God acts toward you. Think about loving them the way Jesus loves you, with the specific actions and virtues he displays.
If Joseph Hellerman is right (and I think he is), God is calling us to a radically different kind of community than that generated by TED Talks or Sunday Assembly. He’s calling us to take the New Law seriously — to love one another in sacrificial, tangibly-expressed, God-sized ways. That is what will satiate our inborn desire for community and make much of the Triune God.