Biblical and Cultural Community: Part 2

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Springing from yesterday’s post, here are a few starting passages in scripture that emphasize the importance of community and some characteristics of Biblical community. Of course none of our communities are 100% Christian, but these are some of the Biblical ideals that are set forth for the church, and most are things that we as believers can and should extend to others in our community regardless of whether they are believers or not.

Acts 2:42-48: This is of course the classic passage used to illustrate a close knit Christian community. Given the significance of the time in which this example of community took place, it seems a good piece of evidence showing that close community that focused on Christ and loving one another desirable to God. This is a picture of the body of Christ when the Holy Spirit had freshly fallen on the believers and when all were powerfully filled and compelled to live according to the Spirit. Lukewarmness hadn’t yet set in as all had so recently witnessed great miracles from God and experienced Him in power. I don’t think it is probable that we could live exactly like this today (and some may argue with me about this) for a number of reasons, including the number of lukewarm Christians, sheer number of believers in the body, and if we speak about local community, of course we factor in that many community members are not following Christ and the word etc, but it does seem to have been very pleasing to God that the community of believers were in such close community with one another, looking together to Him and serving one another sacrificially.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31: In this section of scripture, Paul talks about the body as one body and many parts. This illustration in and of itself suggests the integrated nature of each member of the body. Each one serves a function and makes up the whole. It suggests that autonomy is not a virtuous method of functioning, but rather depicts an image of the body that involves serving each other and humble dependence upon one another.

1 John 3:16-18: This passage talks about loving our brothers by laying down our lives for them and loving them by seeing their needs and meeting them. How can we do that if we are not around our brothers and sisters enough and don’t know them well enough to understand their needs?

Matthew 5:43-48: Loving our enemies even comes into play with regards to community. Many aspects of our cultures and human nature would say to cut ties with anyone who would be considered an enemy, but the Bible seems to say that the ideal would be to work to bring that person back into community through Christ-like love.

Ephesians 3:6: As we can see by the fact that God’s plan has always been to include the Gentiles in His kingdom, we see that the body of Christ is multi-cultural and should be expanding across seemingly natural boundaries. The believers back in that day definitely had much to wrestle through as they learned how to love cross-culturally and accept those whom they had previously segregated themselves from, but Christ came to unify and bring His people first to himself but also together with one another in the body of Christ.

Hebrews 3:12-14 This is a great passage showing our responsibility as believers to regularly encourage one another away from sin and towards godliness, which again is something that requires relationship and community in order to actually take place.

I know this is in no way comprehensive, but they are just some of the passages that stood out to me this past week. Do you have any passages from scripture that have taught or encouraged you about Biblical community? Have you seen any of these things in practice in your community (either church body or local community)? Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share about living in community?

Next: Part 3 will focus on some questions that we can ask ourselves to help come to a clearer understanding of the communities in which we live, how our worldview affects how we function in our community, and hopefully will be helpful in encouraging us towards living in and working towards a more Biblical view and practice of community.


4 Responses to “Biblical and Cultural Community: Part 2”

  1. 1 Kristen ~ Pajama Mama May 26, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    What a cool site you host! I’ll have to peruse it more later! And I definitely want to hear more about Big Truths for Little Hearts-I’ll have to look for it!

  2. 2 Janna May 27, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    LOVE this site! I’m a stay-at-home mom of one year old twins living in Portland, Oregon. I’ve oddly found more community in my urban church and urban neighborhood than I did growing up in a smaller town. Pleasant surprise!

  3. 3 alatvala May 27, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Kristen and Janna! I am so glad you are enjoying the site. Thanks for the encouragement! Like I said earlier, Kristen, you have a great site as well. Everyone should check it out by clicking on her link above! Kristen just did a post and had a guest post about casting vision to children about world missions. Great thoughts! Janna, that is so wonderful to hear how blessed you have been with community even in an urban area. Has that taken a lot of effort on your part, or is it just a naturally community oriented area? Either way, that is so great!

  4. 4 Janna May 27, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    No effort on my part. Portland is just set up to foster real neighborhoods. For one thing, everything is close, within walking distance, so you run into your neighbors at the grocery store, movie theater, pharmacy, park, etc… And people walk almost everywhere and most have dogs or small children (which makes for easy conversation.) When our twins were first born, our neighbors brought food, mowed our lawn and walked our dog for us. It was a huge help!

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