A positive news story caught my eye recently. The headline was “94-year-old puts in pool for neighborhood kids.” For less than two minutes, you can watch the news clip by clicking here. This news story features a retired court judge named Keith Davison who combats his loneliness by inviting the neighborhood kids to play in his pool. Judge Davison lost his wife a year ago, and felt weighed down by his loneliness. So, he built a swimming pool and invited the community. In reality, Judge Keith Davison fostered community.
Everyone needs community. Everyone needs to experience relationships with other people. In fact, God created us to experience life together. The best kind of community, though, is centered on Jesus Christ.
Christian community is extremely important because it points us to Jesus and his forgiveness. Christian communities proclaim the gospel to those within their community, and show the world what life with God actually looks like. Christian community is so vital that a guy named Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book about it, called Life Together. He stated, “…The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
When we try to fly solo, so to speak, we aren’t living as Christ calls us to live. When we spend less time gathering with other Christians or gather in ways that aren’t helpful, we are tempted to believe the lies which Satan wants us to believe. Lies such as, God’s forgiveness doesn’t quite apply to particular sins of ours, or that God doesn’t really care about the suffering in our lives, or that God’s Word isn’t completely true. On our own, we cannot help but question God’s truth.
Jesus Christ calls us to speak words of forgiveness to our fellow Christian, words of truth in uncertain and discouraging moments. So, we need to gather together in our church, homes, parks, and our surrounding neighborhood. However, we must also take caution not to push Christ out of our gathering. A community without Christ misses something. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20
Bonhoeffer warned against pushing Christ out of our gathering by saying, “The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship…Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community
So what does Christ-centered community look like? It looks like people who gather together and confess their sins to one another. It looks like Christians who don’t conceal their sins but bring them into the light, so that the Words of Jesus’ forgiveness can be spoken to them. It looks like people who walk with one another in all kinds of circumstances to remind each other that God is in charge. True community consists of people who pray for one another, have honest conversations about God, and struggle through life together in Jesus’ name.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:16
How can you further pursue Christ-centered community?
Written By: Vicar Alex Lahue
Posted on Tue, August 22, 2017
by Stacy Yates