“Biblical Community” – They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” This sentence elicited good discussion. Each of us seemed to be inserting the word “all” as the third word in the sentence. Once we realized that erroneous insertion – and read the sentence without it – the meaning changed. These very early Christians sold their property and possessions (as needed) to give to anyone who (they perceived) had need. In other words, the early believers did not immediately sell all of their worldly belongings and then flit throughout the city tossing money into the air to be retrieved by anyone. To us, they were at least somewhat judicious in “spreading the wealth”. In counterpoint to that, they were very extravagant in “spreading the Word” – hosting believers and non-believers in their homes to partake of “Biblical Community”. We also noted that these first Christians were active in their search for people to invite into the “community”. They did not passively sit in their homes and wait for some curious person to come and knock on their door. That is a big message to us. We build the “Biblical Community” through every form of outreach we are able to utilize. FPC is in the early stages of entering the digital community and we must expand this effort. At the same time, we need to focus on becoming more active in the local community and local mission work. This was a most enjoyable chapter for us to share and discuss.
We talked about how, ironically, with all our technology and cell phones, we seem to be becoming more isolated from person to person contact. 12 step groups, based on Christianity, focus on mutual support, loving guidance, and accountability. Sponsors may be contacted when a person is facing temptation. Such groups remind us of what the church is to be about. Ever since the Garden of Eden, sin has been breaking our fellowship with God and others, but the Holy Spirit brings us together in true community!
Our group agreed this was a good lesson coming on the heels of two relatively difficult messages (single mindedness, total surrender) because it was a nice reminder that we can share in the challenge to totally surrender our lives to God. We started looking at “Biblical Community” from a worldly view and then ultimately discussed the community within Noblesville First Presbyterian Church. In all cases it was clear that God always intended for there to be a biblical community for interaction between his people.
Interesting topic that elicited a very lively discussion. We talked about different types of communities that historically had different outcomes. One of the examples discussed was communism. The idea of everyone working to sustain everyone else had relationship to a Christian ideal. But, without Christ at the heart of it, it became a very oppressive, cruel and failed community. Another example described Northwest Coast Native American tribes who practiced “potlatch”. Potlatch was a practice that involved the entire tribal community giving all of their possessions away once a year to their fellow tribesman, thereby providing for each other’s needs and redistributing wealth throughout the community. This was an economic community action with spiritual underpinnings.
We agreed that a believer without the fellowship of biblical community will never experience the fullness of their faith. Also, the fate of fringe believers may hinge on how the church family operates as a community. Like most families, disfunction in the church community can turn off fringe believers, lose membership, and give credence to those who point to hypocritical actions as a reason not to join in. In addition, we discussed how church community’s can separate into cliques that can have positive or negative results. Ultimately, the benefits of engagement in a biblical community of like-minded believers magnifies faith, without sacrificing individuality.
Our group discussed the differences in the depth of friendships between our Christian and non-Christian friends. We all have non-Christian friends and sometimes it’s difficult to discuss our faith with them out of fear of recrimination. We talked about the importance of having friends who we are “accountable” to – who will give us support but also be willing to talk to us when we are making poor decisions. We recognize that we need to share and welcome others into our Christian community. Our congregation needs to be involved in community activities to take our message outside our walls. We all agreed that being in a strong congregation of supportive believers is so important to our growth.
Enjoy this song and powerful video “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North. It’s so true that we should never have to walk alone when we are part of Christ’s community.