During Lent this year, we talked about establishing a Rule of Life—developing a set of habits and disciplines that would help us live intentionally in the way of Jesus. Making and then living out a Rule of Life takes discernment and endurance. It’s hard work to live intentionally.
But what about living intentionally together?
That’s what we’re diving into during this upcoming sermon series and season of Community Groups. We will investigate together what it would look like for our church—this family that God has called to himself—to build a community that reflects the mission of Jesus.
We like to attach the word community onto pretty much anything. It’s an easy, feel-good sort of word that we accept as a shallow label for anything involving more than one person. But the community of the church, the community of disciples, is much deeper in its roots and far more costly to attain. At the core of Christian community is communion, our belief that we are made one with one another not because we are friendly or because we have similar interests, but because Christ has bound us together by his grace. The basis of all Christian community is the suffering, sacrificial love of Jesus.
Once we’ve understood this unique call to Christian community, we can start to get real. Our lives aren’t really set up for this sort of costly relationship. Our calendars, our bank accounts, our parenting, our jobs aren’t set up for this sort of community. We aren’t going to be able to figure this out for ourselves; there’s no one-size-fits-all fix. We are going to have to dig into this together, work through this together, and discover together what it will look like for each of us to live into our identity as members of this family.
Guiding much of our conversation, both in the sermons and during Community Groups, will be a collection of readings titled Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People. We will just scratch the surface of this excellent resource, so I encourage everyone to grab a copy to study individually or in your TIE groups. The title alone reminds us of our purpose. We are called (even commanded) to live in loving relationship with one another as the church. It’s a difficult road, one that will likely mean some tough decisions and meaningful sacrifices. But that struggle isn’t purposeless. It isn’t just some rite of passage to prove you are worthy. We believe that the hard work of restoring our community is actually an invitation to the life Jesus desires for his people. We believe that as we turn our hearts away from our individual paths, as we invest in costly relationship with one another, that we will find the abundant life that Jesus promises his followers.
One thing is for sure. This season is going to shatter any easy ideas we have about community. And I pray that it will call us to build together a family that loves one another the way Jesus loves us.