Community. We hear this term a lot in churches, but are we truly aware of how vital it is to our lives as Christians? I’d like to help us understand the importance of community by using a simple illustration. Rock climbing.
I’ve been rock climbing several times in my life. It is a fun, rigorous hobby that is just the right degree of difficulty. If you have ever been rock climbing, you probably have noticed a person down below who is holding the rope as you climb. This person is known as the belayer.
The importance of the belayer to the rock climber cannot be understated. They are tasked with supporting the rock climber as they move up the wall. And this is a task of utmost importance. Without the belayer, the rock climber would be unable to take rests or make mistakes. But because the belayer is there, the rock climber does not have to be perfect. They can miss a peg, and not go plummeting down to the ground. They can take a rest because their belayer is supporting and strengthening them to continue on.
And this is the idea that I want us to get. That just as a rock climber needs a belayer to reach the peak of the wall, so we as Christians need community to strengthen us to be the people God has called us to be.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:12-17).
Before we jump into this passage, let’s look at the context. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church of Colossae. In the third chapter, in the previous verses, he is encouraging the believers to set their minds and focus on Christ and His Kingdom. But to do that they must first take off their former attitudes and mindsets. These included: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,covetousness, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lying (Colossians 3:5-11).
It was important that they shift their focus from these because Paul knew that community was unable to thrive in a environment where these were present. That these attitudes and actions would destroy any semblance of Christ-like community. Once they took these off, then their hearts could be transformed by Christ to produce a new mindset and a new focus. A pure focus on His Kingdom.
In Verse 12, Paul described the new mindset that each believer should have. Compassionate hearts. Patience. Humility. Kindness. This new mindset was in direct opposition to their mindset of the past. And this mindset that they would personally have, would then flow over into community.
So what does Christ-centered community look like?
1. Bearing each other’s burdens
2. Forgiving each other
3. Putting on love
4. Letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts
5. Being thankful
6. Letting the word of Christ dwell richly in us
7. Teaching and Encouraging each other
8. Doing everything in the name of the Father
Each of the previously noted things above put together the whole of the understanding of godly community. And what they form is the understanding that as Christians we cannot do life alone.
As verse 15 states, we were called in one body. We were called to be one, to function as one. This is our duty and call as Christians. To be apart of what God is doing through His body.
So what does that mean?
It means we seek God’s Kingdom by being connected. Are you connected to a local church? Are you involved in a small group? If you are not connected, you have nobody behind you to support and strengthen you. You are in essence a rock climber without a belayer and you are just one misstep away from falling.
But with a community there, when you fall, they are there for you. Not only that, but you are able to help others up when they fall. We need people behind us. And others need people behind them.
And that is the genius of community. That we realize on our own that we are weak, and vulnerable, but together we are strong. And because we are in Christ, we are even stronger.
Step into God’s community today and feel the support and rest God wants you to experience by having others. Stop being isolated, but allow others to speak into your life, and to be your spiritual belayer.
Future posts will discuss how we act as a community practically.