The Bible has quite a bit to say on the subject of community and fellowship. It is, after all, one of the key components to making the church a unified body of believers rather than just a bunch of people meeting together.
In order to help us better understand the need for community as well as our responsibility in helping to create that community, let’s take a look at some of the verses in the Bible that address the issue and see what we can learn from them.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (ESV).
This passage tell us that we are to work together to spread the message of the Gospel and to help one another in our spiritual growth and maturity. We are also reminded here of the essentialness of meeting together to worship and to learn more about God’s Word and how to apply it to our lives.
Someone who says they can be just as good a Christian worshipping God in the woods or on a mountain or in their home is deceiving themselves and disobeying God. Yes, there are times when it is impossible for someone to worship with the body. That isn’t what I’m talking about—or what the Bible is saying in these verses. What these verses are saying is that because we are a body with many members just like Paul describe the church in 1 Corinthians 12, we cannot separate ourselves from the rest of the body and expect to function at our full potential.
Acts 2:42, 45
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need (NIV).
In addition to worshipping together and praying with and for one another, we are to meet each other’s physical needs in whatever way we can. Sharing with one another by providing meals, loaning or giving material possessions when needed, helping with a financial emergency, stepping in to help care for someone or their family members… all of these are ways we exhibit a sense of community.
I will never forget the community we experienced when I was bedridden for four months during my third pregnancy. Not only did Granny and my mom come to help out when they could, our church family provided meals, cared for my two other babies, cleaned my house, did my laundry, sat and visited with me to help pass the time, and prayed for the safe and healthy delivery of our baby girl. The love shown to us during this difficult time will never be forgotten and served to forge friendships that time and distance cannot separate.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up (NIV).
We were created to need companionship and we do better when we have someone to love, serve with, have fun with, and live life with. So be sure to look around at the people in your church.
How many lonely widows or widowers could use the fellowship of sharing a meal with you and your family or enjoy a visit from you on a dreary day?
How many single moms could use a helping hand around the house, with the yard, or taking care of the kids so she can enjoy some quiet time to herself or with friends?
How many young couples could use a date night but have no grandparents nearby to babysit? Will you?
How many of the young people from your church leave home for college and need to know you still care? Will you send them letters and care packages? Will you encourage them to stay strong in the LORD even though they are away from home?
We must lift each other up.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (ESV).
Don’t be afraid or too busy to invest in someone else’s life. Be a listener. Be an encourager. Be a prayer warrior. Be a teacher and mentor. Offer a helping hand.
1 Corinthians 12:25:27
That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (ESV).
We won’t always see eye-to-eye or even understand why some people say or do the things they say and do. But our feet have nothing in common with our hair, other than the fact that they are part of the same body. That’s the way it is with the Church, too. It’s okay to not be close to everyone. But it’s not okay to not care about everyone and be willing to do what you can to encourage them, ease their pain, be glad for them, or help them in their time of need in whatever way you can.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (ESV).
As Christians we have a huge responsibility to welcome, nurture, teach, and disciple new believers as well as newcomers to your church. I speak from experience when I say finding a new church family when you relocate is a daunting task. Don’t ever let it be said of you that you did not make an effort to make someone feel welcome in your congregation. And let it never be said of you that you did not make an effort to help someone take their relationship with Christ to the next level.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (NIV).
In short, be nice and do to others as you would have them do unto you.
~ By Darla Noble
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