Last night I attended a gathering of house church leaders from the Knoxville area to discuss what God is doing in our communities and how we might encourage one another. Part of our conversation revolved around the need for true Christian community, for sharing life together, and how the home church or small group is a fertile context for Christian community. Whether it’s a house church or a small group, the opportunity for intimate, life-on-life relationship is more likely if we fellowship with a few rather than merely park in the pew.
But, as one of our group reminded us, having community is not an end in itself. Christian communities are always in danger of becoming self-focused and turned in on themselves. This is not the kind of “community” for which we were made. We were made in the image of the God who is a community on mission. The three-in-one God did not keep His blessed joy and fellowship to Himself, but set out on a mission to create, and then redeem, a people who would enjoy Him and glorify Him forever. These people, made in the image and likeness of God, are made to be a community on mission and they are meant to fill the earth with communities on mission.
Yes, we were created for and long for community. But we are all too often “too easily pleased” with hanging out in our holy huddles when true community exists for the sake of God and others. It’s not Christian community if its not a community on mission. More specifically, it’s not Christian community if it’s not a Christ-centered community on Christ’s mission.
[Cartoon HT: David Hayward]