Community is Identity

From Tim Chester:

The church is not a building you enter. Nor is it a meeting your attend. It is not what you do on a Sunday. To be a Christian is to be part of God’s people and to express that in your life through belonging to a local Christian community.

Our Belonging

We belong to one another (Romans 12:5). If a car belongs to me then I am responsible for it and I decide how it should be used. If a person belongs to me them I am responsible for them and I am involved in their decisions.

Our Home

Peter says Christians are ‘foreigners’ = ‘without home’ in the world (1 Peter 2:11). But we are being built into an alternative ‘home’ (1 Peter 2:5).

Our Family

Families eat together, play together, cry together, laugh together, raise child together provide for one another. Families argue and fight, but they do not stop being families and they don’t join other families because they have different tastes in music or reading. With family you can take off your shoes and put your feet on the sofa. They provide identity and a place of belonging.

Family is one of the most common New Testament images for the church. So try re-reading the paragraph above, substituting the word ‘church’ for ‘family’…

Our Community

The New Testament word for community is used to describe sharing lives (1 Thessalonians 2:8), sharing property (Acts 4:32), sharing in the gospel (Philippians 1:5; Philemon 6) and sharing in Christ’s suffering and glory (2 Corinthians 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:13). Helping poor Christians is an act of ‘community’ (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13). Christians are people who share their lives with one another.

Our Joy

How would you answer this question: ‘For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes?’ Paul says to the church in Thessalonica, ‘Is it not you?’ (1 Thessalonians 2:19)

Implication: ‘We’ not ‘I’

We need to say not ‘I am planning to …’ or ‘this is my ministry’, but ‘we are planning to …’ and ‘this is our ministry’. We need to say not ‘you need to … or ‘the church doesn’t meet my needs’, but ‘we need to …’ and ‘why don’t we do this’.

Taking Pieces of Heaven to Place of Hell On Earth

Jesus says: “I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not stand up…” –Matthew 16.18

First it is important to remind ourselves that in this challenge Jesus is calling his church to take an Offensive stike, not a Defensive response. The church is to take the initiative, go, and storm the gates. This verse does not suggest the church create a fortress and stand guard, as we too freequently have done.

Second, we must ask ourselves what this means practically. I’ve been through some pretty rough neighborhoods, but I have yet to see a literal enterence to the actual Hell.  So how can we act out on this passage?

Palmer Chinchen offers us some insights.  In the line of thinking presented in Richard Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel, Chinchen challenges Christ’s church to come together to make a difference, and storm the gates and stem the growth of Hells on Earth. 

Chinchen, pastor of The Grove in Chandler, Arizona, is brother of one of my old seminary classmates.  I don’t know Palmer, but have high regard for Paul. Now I also have high regard for Palmer’s passion.