‘Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God’ (Romans 4:20 NIV)
Recently I’ve been reflecting on God’s command to us to be “in community.” Community is a discussion that comes up a lot for me in conversation, especially as for the last 15 years we have had, what I would describe as, a nomadic existence when it came to being part of the body of Christ.
Yet when my Christian fellowship should have been non-existent, I found it to be a most dynamic and exciting time. Instead of confining spiritual connection to those within a local church, I found and adopted a kingdom view of the Church.
I place great value on the local church, but my view of community has changed. It helped me to become less dependent on the local church to nurture and grow my faith. I have learned that there is freedom to be alone within the Body of Christ. There is holiness to be found in solitude, His glory and God Himself, who died on a Cross alone, and sent His Spirit to dwell in all who comes to Him.
My faith community is unique; it has no legal name and is comprised of people both within and outside of my church.
Hence the paradox for me. The power comes by way of Christ through His death on the cross, bringing each member of the Body to Himself and living in community, yet needing aloneness with Him to draw near to His glory.
This required a paradigm shift for me. I had to change the way I thought about the body of Christ, shifting from a mindset of isolation and denominational faith church to one of a global faith family. We are surrounded by Jesus people every day. The number of fellow Christians with which we share daily community is so much larger than the number we meet with on Sunday mornings. We already participate in these real-life Christian communities whether we know it or not, but we will never be nourished by them if we don’t acknowledge them.
When I encounter believers outside of a local church context, I learnt that I must be quick to listen and slow to speak. If we disqualify fellow Christians from our personal community because they think differently than us, we miss out on the majority of our family of Christ and our community will suffer for it.
My passion became more meaningful to the Body of Christ in this context, yet at the same time being fuelled inwardly in an individual capacity. It reflects my life mission, which is: ‘To be a man after God’s own heart and bring others to the flame.’ This comes from my love for the Tabernacle prayer model (which I will talk about in future blogs) and the call to keep the lamp burning with the finest oil so that the household of faith [people of all nations, tribes and tongue] can see the light, for God’s greatest desire is to indwell His people with His presence.
So my present call is not into a large group of people to be at its centre, but rather to keep encouraging “other” to pursue His presence, to keep having conversations, and to keep learning how to love as He loves, wherever I find myself. I cultivate and process much of this through my writing.
I’ve tried time and time again to seek out community through the church and the thing I’m always left with is emptiness. I’ve always felt ashamed to admit that but the thing is, I do better one on one.
I found this to be both comforting and troubling – but then, I’m odd like that. I attend church – because I can’t not attend church, that’s just how it is for me. And I love the people there very much. But my community right now, my heart centre groups, are not in that church. It seems totally counter to my training and my understanding of the way things are supposed to work. And I’m okay with that. I love our worship times and I need them, too. But at this particular juncture in my story, community is found elsewhere.
My expectation is from Him, not from one another. This, I think, is what I needed to know from my current community. I need to dare to let Jesus and His righteousness be my identity, instead of our community and our culture.