Is Community Needed?
Some believers see a Christian community or being part of a fellowship as optional and not an essential part of their Christian life. They feel that they don’t need church or anyone else. Someone once told me ,“I can read the Bible and worship God inside my room by myself just as well as in a church.”
I thought about that statement. Doesn’t the Bible also teach us about our relationships with one another? That we need to love our brothers and sisters, and join together? So, is it possible if someone wants to follow Jesus, but doesn’t want to be in a community of believers?
The Center of A Christian Community
A Christian community cannot be separated from Christ himself. When Apostle Paul served the congregation in Thessalonians, he spent his time sharing the Gospel and sharing life together with them.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (1 Thes 2:8)
The gospel and the word of God are the center to a Christian community. Paul further wrote in Ephesians 2:20 that the kingdom and family of God were “built upon the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone.” Having fellowship in Him is a spiritual reality, a group of sisters and brothers who are trying to carry out Jesus’ teaching that can only be found in the Bible.
The word of God becomes the foundation, the binding, and the core of a community in Christ. They are immersed in truth and unconditional love, and only God’s word has the authority to rule in this community. This is where a Christian community is different from other communities.
What Do We Share with One Another?
On the other hand, it’s not just words that we need to share, but also sharing life, which means sharing experiences and reflections on how our life relates to the Word. In fellowship, we practice what we know. For example, in the culinary community, members exchange recipes and try new culinary places. In the photography community, members exchange tricks and photo hunting together. In a Christian community, God’s words aren’t mere knowledge for us, but it’s also a place to practice sharing love to each other by sharpening each other’s faith (Proverbs 27:17), just like Jesus loves us by giving us His words.
The purpose of sharing testimony is to build up and encourage each other, and to strengthen our fellow members of the community. Someone once said, “Living without the church is like working out without a trainer. You need to have the expertise and guidance of someone else. You can’t train yourself. I feel the same way about Christianity.”
Sharing Responsibility for One Another
Not only that, as a community holds a standard they have to keep, we have the responsibility to take care for one another to live by God’s standard.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)
In 1 Corinthians 12:12, God analogizes the church as one body, with Christ as the head and each of us as a member. Just like Christians, we can only function fully when we become part of the body.
Therefore, a Christian community is not only important for us to have, but it is something that we need to have. A lot of people say, ‘I can do it on my own, I have a one-on-one relationship with God.’ That may be true, but I am finding out more and more that God’s will is for me to also love my brothers and sisters. The more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus, listening to His Word and having Him guide my hand, the more love I feel for those around me.” There’s a saying in the world: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Together with a spiritual community, we can grow into a fully mature believer according to God’s instructions.