Deep Community: Loving and Building Relationships with Others

Building Community

Rugged individualism is fine if you’re taming a wild frontier, but has no place for building community. There are no “lone ranger” Christians. If you are a believer, God has not called you to go it alone. He has ordered our world so we can work in a community.

Building Community in Family

The first community we belong to is the family into which we are born. God in his wisdom designed the family to provide a nurturing environment for our childhoods. Eventually, we are old enough to care for ourselves. It is in the family that we learn how to handle the world around us. Ideally, we learn about God and how we as humans need to submit to his rule:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NKJV

Attacks on the Family

Unfortunately, the ideal family is under attack today in America and other places around the globe. Many couples come together for a short period outside the bounds of marriage instead of enjoying the security of a committed relationship, They may have children but will separate. The dads and moms find new partners, possibly several before the children grow to adulthood. This neither serves the children nor the parents and leads to confusion and heartache.

Our public education system is forced, more adamantly each day, to deny God. They teach harmful philosophies of the world’s system to our children. For this reason, parents must be diligent about the things thrust upon our kids. This happens primarily at school, but also through media, culture, and social networks. Our homes must present our children with the truth. We must counteract the lies they are being taught by the rest of the world.

We must help our children to understand their purpose in life and give them the training necessary to fulfill it. If more parents do this job adequately, we can strengthen our churches and our society. Both need strengthening badly.

The Responsibility for Elderly Parents

Growing older, many fail to provide adequately for themselves. The twenty to thirty years after they stop producing income can be very lean years. The government’s safety net is proving less and less adequate to support our parents in their twilight years. Remember the admonition of scripture to: “Honor your father and mother.” Our parents sacrificed, loved, and cared for us. We should return this love and sacrifice to them when they need it.

Building Community in Churches

God gives us the family community. But, as Christians, we are placed in a spiritual family also. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV.

If you look at the situation in the Middle East, it is undeniable that the Day is approaching. As followers of Christ, we should encourage our brothers and sisters to love each other and do good to all men. By keeping in fellowship with other believers, we make ourselves and them more capable of what God has called each of us.

Ways the Church Makes Us Stronger

Healthy churches are places of love and encouragement to prepare us to fulfill God’s mandate. Ways a church helps its members are:

  • Encouragement – God promises to comfort and encourage us. He often does this through other people. We saw above in the passage from Hebrews 10 that one of the reasons to assemble is for exhortation. Different versions translate the word as encouragement. When Paul had to flee Macedonia because of the persecution of the Jews, he sent Timothy back to encourage them. “Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,” – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 NKJV (For more of the background of this story, see Acts 17: 1-15.)
  • Accountability — “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9 NKJV. The idea of holding yourself accountable to another person used to grate on me. “I am not accountable to any man,” I thought. “I am only accountable to God.” However, I now think differently. The reason is that synergistic relationships work. Auditing a college course, versus taking the course for credit, is the same idea. Frankly, you work harder when you know your efforts will receive a grade. Churches that assign accountability partners to check another’s progress in keeping spiritual disciplines will, in my opinion, see more success.
  • Edification – One of the best benefits of fellowship with other believers is that we are made stronger by being with them. Other believers sharing how the Lord is working in their lives spurs you on and builds your faith.
  • Restoration – Sin tempts us all, and sadly, we often fall for these temptations. If you have sinned against God, it is difficult to rebuild that relationship by yourself. We need to be transparent about our failures, and the church should offer a non-judgmental environment to restore us to a right relationship with God. Forgiveness should be immediate, but rebuilding trust takes time. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1 NKJV

In the World’s Community

The final aspect of community is our relationship with the world. Satan has taken over the system of this world and the church’s responsibility is to take it back. Jesus’ last command to his disciples before leaving the earth was this:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” – Mat 28:18-20 NKJV

We are at war with this world, but we must remember that our fight is not with the people of the world. We are fighting against the principalities and spirits of darkness. We should view people as prisoners of war. Believers who testify to the gospel’s power are the liberators of these lost souls. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

Your Assignment in the Army of God

We are all part of the heavenly army, but just as soldiers do not all play the same role, we are not all called to be foreign mission’s workers. As a spiritual soldier, you may play one of these parts:

  • Infantry – These are the “boots on the ground.” Missionaries have the skills, training, and ability, take the gospel to the people. God has called them. They are the folks on the front line. Do not shirk your responsibilities if this is who God has called you to be, but realize there may be another role you are supposed to play.
  • Logistics – These are the people who must supply the “beans and bullets” for the soldiers on the field. “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” – 2 Timothy 2:4 NKJV. Many are called to supply the field soldiers with food, shelter, and clothing. They don’t have the time or often, the legal status, to work a secular job in a foreign country to supply these things for themselves. Therefore, they must depend on those who are behind the lines to meet their needs.
  • Intelligence – Before the children of Israel invaded the land of the Canaanites, they sent Joshua, Caleb, and their compatriots in to spy out the land. We often need short-term missionary ventures to gather the intelligence before we send in the missionaries to do the work of liberation. The front-line foreign workers need to know the state of the the church and the culture to develop a strategic plan.
  • Air Force – Just as soldiers need air support to soften a target before an invasion, missionaries need a prayer support team to engage the battle before the infantry soldiers even arrive. We must pray for the offensive struggle. We must fight against the powers of darkness that have captured the people. Prayers are also defensive. The frontline missionaries are in danger of being attacked, and prayer is needed to protect them from discouragement, temptation, and weariness.

As Christians, we must remember that our enemy is seeking to devour us like a roaring lion consumes its prey. By banding together in close families, a healthy church, and as an active duty soldier enlisted in the Lord’s army, we position ourselves to stand against our spiritual foes and defend our position until the commander returns and sets the battle for victory.

Want to read more on this topic? Check out this article: Holy Partnerships

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