BRIEF THEOLOGY OF COMMUNITY
This document is not designed to be an exhaustive Theology of Community, but rather challenge particular views and be specific to BeLoved. If you would like to discuss anything in this document or the Theology of Community further, we would love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Just as the Father, Son & Holy Spirit are in fellowship with one another, we were designed to be in fellowship with one another. (‘It is not good for man to be alone.’ Genesis 2:18) Throughout scripture and history, people gather together fulfilling this mandate. God is glorified when we dwell in unity with one another as though we were one body (1 Corinthians 12:12) and are mirroring the trinity on a basic human level.
Consequently, biblical community is not meeting together (as the body) just on a Sunday morning. What body can be apart from itself the majority of the time? Surely it would die?! But we are designed to be one body mirroring the trinity. We should be meeting in fellowship, not neglecting it (Hebrews 10:25), encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) so that we may be encouraged by one another’s faith (Romans 1:12). We should have unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God, that leads to maturity, to know the fullness of Christ, so that we no longer get tossed about by any doctrine or human cunning deceitful schemes, but rather speaking to one another in love, growing to be more like Christ. When the whole body is joined to Christ and each member is working correctly it allows the entire body to grow. (Ephesians 4:12-16)
We must notice that you and each member of our church community have: received grace in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4), redemption in Christ (Romans 3:24), justification in Christ (Galatians 2:17), forgiveness of sins in Christ (Ephesians 4:32), no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). We are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) ; we have eternal life in Christ (Romans 6:23); God supplies all our needs in Christ (Philippians 4:19); we have every spiritual blessing of heaven in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) ; we will be presented to God perfect in Christ (Colossians 1:28); we cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:32).
Therefore we are to love one another (John 13:34, 15:12), outdo one another in showing honour (Romans 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16), aim for restoration, comfort, agreement and peace with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11), serve one another (John 13:1-20; Galatians 5:13), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32), submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21), be honest with one another (Colossians 3:9), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), confess to one another (James 5:16), pray for one another (James 5:16).
So then, ‘let us never trivialize the church! It cost God the life of his Son to create this. And what you share with the persons sitting near you in Christ is a life and an inheritance and a union so great and so profound that it surpasses the value of all other human relationships and all inheritances and can never end […] Here is the amazing thing: That’s who I am. I am a part of you. Meaning that my individuality—my identity, as God has created me to be—can not be known except in serving you as I rely upon Christ. And yours can only be found in serving others in reliance on Christ. That’s what hands and feet and eyes and ears do. They serve. That’s why we have gifts.’
Therefore, we must be in fellowship with one another, glorifying God. Being one body that encourages, protects, and builds up its members; seeing each member as a unique, God-created and cherished, God-glorifying part that when part of a whole-body it can use its God-given gifts to bless the body. But what does that mean for a location community? Should Christians attempt to mimic this with non-Christians? I would say yes, as we understand, value, honour and respect each member of our community, we will show them a small part of the love of Christ, and we will glorify God by showing respect and honour to God’s creation. As the individuals feel a deep sense of love, they will be naturally more open and willing to listen, and then you can share your testimony and the Gospel. The above is how I would like the outreach to run: local Christians as part of one body working together to show love, honour, and respect to its community to get to know individuals and share the Gospel.