The community is the featured topic this week. Every Thursday or Friday I tease the featured item on Facebook. Most times it gets one or two snarky comments. Occasionally, a subject hits a nerve. I rarely comment. I let the friends go back and forth and allow them to help me shape what path the post might take.
With this issue of community, there were extreme reactions to the subject. A few opinions display a level of pain; somehow it felt like the church community has caused hurt. Others were defensive like we should not even talk about the topic at all. Strange, maybe they sense that community in congregations is lukewarm to non-existent and when we speak about it the unchurched world will discover our hidden brokenness. I have news for you the unconnected world already knows many churches struggle to be the church in Acts 2 even if they never read about the church in Acts 2. Starting with the Acts 2 church passage is far too easy. We will get there, but we will not begin there.
Let’s ease into the discussion of community with 1 Timothy 3:15, “if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar, and buttress of the truth. ”
How Community Gets Broken?
As we reach the end of the school term, this was my least favorite season of the year. All of my past procrastination would pay off or come back to haunt me. The report card would come out and get sent home. It was a race to the mailbox. If the report were positive, I would take it to my parents with pride, if not, time to break out the pen and be an artist. Ok, I only tried that once.
What Paul is giving out is a report card on the church in Ephesus. Like any evaluation, there are positives and negatives. Some of the church’s struggles were; these dear Christians had allowed themselves to be side-tracked by false teaching, divided by arguments, and distracted by rules and decrees proposed by their new teachers. Paul hoped better, God expects better, the unbelieving community around needs better. By the power of God’s grace, they could do much better! In this section of Paul’s correspondent to young Timothy, he sets out the standards at which the church should be aiming.
The church is no fly-by-night organization; it is not a cut-rate business. This is the church of the living God, the Bride of Christ. Jesus gave His blood for her and then he gave her the authority of spreading the good news and live according to his Word in a pagan environment. Stand up strong church; your mission is too critical, your savior too robust to allow minor disagreements to comprise the effectiveness of your message. The gospel message is the heart of community and discipleship is how we grow and then share this gospel message, but we do it as a unified community.
Now that we have established that, next Tuesday come back as we break down “What Happens in Community?” And then “The Impact Community Has on a Pagan World.” Thanks for reading and thanks more for sharing. We are creating a movement together.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Ti 3:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
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The Christian "movers and shakers" from past centuries have a lot of relevant things to say to us today!