As those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are committed to encouraging one another with the good news that he came, died for us, rose to new life, and reigns as King - bringing us life. We want to share this news with others.
We challenge one another to be servant-hearted, risk-taking and flexible, because the good news is more important than our preferences, security and traditions.
As we live life, serving together and loving one another, church is encountered as a network of relationships rather than a meeting you attend or a place you enter.
What is community? Why do we desire it? What happens when we don't have it?
People all need community; it's something about the way we are wired - how we are made. We need relationships, to give and receive support, and a sense of togetherness around common aims. When we don't have it, loneliness and isolation is a terrible thing. Indeed, solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments we inflict on someone in our society.
So communities usually have a purpose - there is something that binds them together; something that they do together. For us, this is believing and sharing the good news of Jesus.
In the bible, the apostle Paul wrote to a church in Philippi, both appealing to them to live in loving community together, and reminding them what the gospel is - what Jesus came to do.
He's saying - come on - live together in loving community around a common purpose:
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Then he reminds them about the good news what Jesus came to do, both as our core belief, and as our example... being willing to be put out to any lengths in order to serve others and see people become part of his kingdom:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
This community serves God and is outward looking as well as caring for its members:
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
Lord, please do this in us.