Truth and Irony

Behind the frowns of life there is a smile of grace

0 notes

Crumbling Foundations in Christian Community: Recovering What’s Primary

Community is not built on the backs of dynamic personalities. It does however seem that way by much of what is practiced. It is the basic assumption of much of Christendom that if we find the right person, people will come in droves to hear him. Certainly having a recognizable name will draw a crowd, but that is not how community is built. The whole “name game” fosters too much competition and dissatisfaction at the local church level. Men who are not as gifted as our more popular brethren are judged by a standard that they are not gifted to meet. Spurgeons and Pipers only come once in a life time, and even those men would confess that true Christian community is not founded on them personally, but rather on specific Biblical principles.

There is no passage of Scripture more clear on true Christian community than what Dr. Luke writes in Acts 2:42-47. What we find in this passage of Scripture is relatively simple to follow and understand. There is a clear indication that these people weren’t simply involved in the lives of one another nominally, rather they had an intimate fellowship. This was not merely a fellowship that was defined by a 1 to 2 hour meeting on Sundays, it was defined by an involvement in one another’s lives at every level. They prayed together. They shared material resources when one had need. They ate meals together. As you look at the passage, a general theme presents itself: they participated in each other’s lives on every front.

Naturally, its not that hard to connect the last sentence in verse 47, And the Lord added to their number, day by day those who were being saved, with the rest of what we read. They grew because they understood the call to be communal. It would be easy however to focus on all the obvious examples of fellowship and miss the very thing that undergirded the community: they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching. Luke tells us plainly that they were devoted to teaching first, and fellowship second; and the rest of this short passage fleshes out exactly what their fellowship looked like.

The concept of fellowship (as stated in Acts 2) is couched between two decidedly worship-centered ideas: teaching and prayer. The foundation upon which true fellowship is built is the apostolic teaching that comes from the Word of God. If we are not devoted to good teaching, that is, teaching founded upon the Word of God, community simply cannot happen. Programs and events cannot be the basis for true Christian community because Jesus designed His community to be founded upon the faithful proclamation of His Word. Pastors are not expendable, but neither should we build the church around their name. We must come to understand the balance of appreciating their call and role in our lives and not make too much or too little of them. True community is the result of the Word of God driving us to love others more deeply. Genuine love is the result of the Word of God penetrating our own hearts and compelling us to act. God raises up men to preach and pastor His people, not simply to exercise control, but rather to build the glorious body of Christ into a rich community.