It is with no uncertainty this morning as I linger in the pre-dawn hours that I can proclaim that 2020 is kind of a mess. Although my morn is dawning with its usual sense of Monday hope - a whole week yet to unravel and unfold in miraculous ways as a school leader, as a wife, daughter, sister and friend - I also sit here with wondering trepidation. What is waiting to unravel and unfold? 2020 doesn't do much to surprise me anymore. In these 80-something days we have left, yes, I am hopeful. But I have to place that hope in the one above, because this down here? Well, in short, it just ain't cutting it, friends!
In times like these, it is easy to choose to withdraw and retreat. And while this is looked favorably upon throughout scripture (Luke 5:16 tell us that Jesus often withdrew to pray), purposeful withdrawal from community is dangerous to Christian living. In fact, we learned in yesterday's post that living in community is Christian. It holds us accountable for our faith, creating a fellowship of believers who do life together, devoting themselves to good teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42). Today, we will dig a bit deeper into this concept of community, and how we can live together in unity for peace during this tumultuous time in our nation's history.
Community in the bible
We know that in order to live strong Christian lives, there are two key concepts that we must consider when we think of living in community with one another. First, a Christian apart from community is a contradiction. Second, we were created for community with God and with one another. As we think about how we were created, even God doesn't exist alone. The Godhead (Trinity) is already a communal being - perhaps the very definition of community. So, how does living in community together serve as a living expression of our faith?
Hebrew 10:24-25 tells us this - "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching," (NIV). The word koinonia takes our understanding of community even further. To commune together, to have fellowship together and to break bread together - all acts that we see in Acts 2:42-47 - is to refer to a "jointly contributed gift" per the very definition of the term. In most Greek editions of the New Testament, the term appears 19 times, drawing our attention to what it means to live in community with one another. In the New American Standard Bible, koinonia is translated as "fellowship" 12 times, "sharing" three times, "participation" two times, and "contribution" twice. We must, then, "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" by meeting together and encouraging one another, perhaps now more than ever before.
The Bond of Peace
When we live in community, we must acknowledge that to live together is not to necessarily be the same. As we briefly touched on yesterday, unity and uniformity are not interchangeable terms. We can live in unity, and yet come from a variety of beautiful and diverse backgrounds. We can live out our humanity in outstanding and unique ways as individuals together. We can choose to do this, however, through the bond of peace. Despite our differences, we can choose to "spur one another on toward love and good deeds" regardless of our political platforms, conservative or liberal sentiments, implicit biases or personal preferences. We can choose to look at one another as a brother or a sister in Christ, each made in the image of God, despite our human flaws.
Each of your fellow humans were specially chosen by God. So were you! We were all made in the image of God in the moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense. As humans, we all have the potential for self-transcendence and the capacity for self-actualization, even when we stumble. Even when we take two steps back. We are all co-creators of our lives alongside the Holy Spirit and the love of God. We can also be co-creators of our lives alongside each other, regardless of the statements we agree or disagree with on social media, the way we vote, or the soul work we need to do to better understand the brothers and sisters who sit at the table of brotherhood with us.
Ephesians 4:3 states, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." I pray this for each of us today.
Linger a Little Longer:
1. Using the biblical descriptions of community above, consider your current communion with those around you today. How are you participating and showing up for one another? How are you sharing or contributing to one another's lives?
2. Has there been a time recently when you have given up communing together? Explain.
3. Consider Hebrews 10:24-25. Is it difficult for you to "spur one another on towards love and good deeds"? How can you be a better instrument of God's peace today?