“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” (Rom. 12: 9-13)
Selfishness and pride on the enemies of healthy community. If one is to develop proper community in church then you need to understand how best to combat pride. The key is found in humility. The above passage in Romans is a personal favorite in mine. If you were to sum up that passage in one thought it would be to consider others more important that yourself.
That in essence is the definition of true humility. Some try and define humility as lowering yourself in comparison to others. This is a bit of a flawed definition though because in the end the focus is still being placed on you. True humility is focused on others rather than focused on you. True humility raises others up. Humility brings about harmony and healing.
As a church we are meant to care for each other’s needs over our own. We should strive to help one another with a joyful spirit. Paul says in this passage that there should be a passion in us to serve God by serving one another. It is not something meant to be done out of simple duty, but out of a heart that has been radically changed because of God.
Think about what would happen if everyone in the church took this Scripture to heart? Gossip would cease to exist, and would be replaced with a genuine love. Paul tells us that our love must be genuine. This means we cannot simply act as thought we love someone, and then speak ill of them when they are not around. It must be a love rooted in our heart that then flows out in our actions rather than a love whose roots start in the action themselves. There is a huge difference between the two.
A love rooted in the heart is one that is pure, and will withstand even the harshest of temptations. A love rooted out of our actions is something that is forced. We act out love towards someone because of duty rather than genuine care for that person. Perhaps we love others based off of what we feel we can receive from them in return. This is a love based off of personal gain rather than a selfless act. A love rooted in the heart springs forth loving acts. A love rooted in acts can never spring forth to the heart. True community has genuine love.
True community understands who they really serve. As a church we must always remember that we answer first and foremost to God. Even when we serve others it is being done with the understanding that we are also being a servant to God. This attitude negates the danger of picking sides within the church. Our duty is first to God.
Our true community turns to God under any circumstances whether it be a time of joy and happiness, or a time of despair. God remains our center. A community with God as the center is one that withstands any hardship. God is our nucleus and is what holds us together. This is crucial since we are all sinful people. We will mess things up sooner or later. Only God can mend our mistakes.
A true community cares for one another. When there are needs of someone in the church then we need to step up and help meet those needs. However, there are a couple of things that need to be understood here. We need to know the people in the community in order to know who has needs. We cannot simply show up to church and sit in the back for a sermon, and run off. We need to actively be engaging in relationships with people. Community is about fellowship. I cannot have fellowship with someone if I never speak with them. I cannot help someone in need if I never invest in their life.
If you have a need then you need to be willing to share that need. It baffles me sometimes when a family gets furious at their church when no one helps them or comforts them over a difficult time in their lives, but when you ask if they told anyone about the issue they reply with a no. How can you expect your church family to help you if you never ask for help? A church family is not the type to be embarrassed about going to when you face hardships. We are here to help one another.
What makes a true Christian community? A humble heart tied to a servant for God with a love that is rooted in the heart. Turn away from pride, and seek wisdom from God. Humble yourself before God, and you can humble yourself before men.