From time to time, I’ll think a lot about biblical community. What it is in a practical sense. How I can contribute to it in my own sphere. Whether I have purposely (or inadvertently) hampered or neglected it from time to time in my own life.

I believe that we are each wired to desire it, much like we are wired with a deep hunger for a personal relationship with God. Yet, it seems that which so many long for is seldom experienced. Why is that?

As Christians in the 21st century, we have access to more resources than ever. In the US we have more disposible time than our parents or grandparents. I don’t want to make this a treatise about the activities with which we fill our lives. That’s not my goal.

But I do want to underscore the fact that a lack of understanding, a misconception of just what biblical community is, often contributes to our lack of it. We settle for some program or strike off in a direction on our own in hopes of arriving at the fulfillment we so desperately desire. Real community exists, and if we know what to look for and where to focus our energy, we can help foster it.

So I figured a brief reminder of what it means to be engaged in a healthy, biblical community would be in order. Perhaps we will be quickened to action. Let me add that these concepts did not originate with me. I learned them while on staff with CBMC. I don’t know where they originate quite frankly. But I think they are worth our attention.

What is Biblical Community?

Community is an interdependent group of people who are growing in their devotion to Christ, one another and the cause of the Gospel. Think of it this way. Imagine a triangle. At the pinnacle is Christ. At the two bottom points are One Another and The Gospel. Each of these three elements must be present if the community is to be healthy. The relationship is symbiotic. If we get out of balance in any area, we miss it. But as we grow in each one, we move toward each one’s goal and toward real community.

What are the Goals of Community?

  • The goal of our devotion to Jesus is intimacy with Him.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. –John 15:4-5

  • The goal of our devotion to One Another is love

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. –John 15:12-13

  • The goal of our devotion to The Gospel is spiritual reproduction

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. –John 15:26-27

As mentioned above, each of these must be present. Omit any one and it’s out of balance.

If we…

  • Omit One Another and it’s “shoot our own” and task oriented. We may become legalistic, even in our efforts to share the Gospel.
  • Omit The Gospel and it’s warm fuzzies and no real purpose. We might have a great time singing Kum ba ya, but our inward focus will eventually become our undoing.
  • Omit Christ and it’s all flesh and we’re doomed before we begin. Without Jesus, it’s heresy so we might as well pack it up and go home.

What is the Value of Community?

Community offers us as Christians much meaning and fulfillment in our walk and witness. A thriving biblical community is:

  • A safe place for spiritual transformation — We see others growing at different points along the way and we are both encouraged and challenged. We can take risks, learn and mess up without fear of rejection.
  • Our vehicle for ministry — There are no lone rangers in ministry. None of us has all the spiritual gifts. Therefore we need each other.
  • A greater power of witness — In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. When we are part of a biblical community, we will draw others to Christ.

Well there it is. If we are to experience biblical community, I believe that we should be growing in our devotion to Christ, one another and the cause of the Gospel. I once heard discipleship defined as broken people ministering to broken people. I agree with that. I would also add that the context of that ministering is biblical community as described above.