What Does the Bible Say About Community?
If the Covid pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we weren’t created for isolation. We need other people.
According to research by scientists at the University of Oxford, “Individuals who have lots of close friends have higher pain tolerances than people who don’t. And being around them, these friends provide an endorphin rush more powerful than expected. As a species, we’ve been created to thrive in a rich social environment. But in this digital era, deficiencies in our social interactions may be one of the overlooked factors contributing to the declining health of our modern society.”
Community is crucially important to our health and well-being. God created us that way. This is why it’s also an important element of the church.
George Gallop conducted a survey stating that 70% of Americans expressed the following needs when it came to a church family or a church home:
- To believe that life is meaningful and has a purpose.
- To have a sense of community and deeper relationships.
- To be appreciated and respected.
- To be listened to and to be heard.
- To grow in their faith.
- To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.
Most things people look for in a church have to do with community.
Definition of Biblical Community
Engagement in an intimate community is essential to your spiritual growth.
Biblical community is a small, intimate gathering of people for Bible study, ministry, and accountability. A corporate worship gathering like a church service does not suffice for a biblical community. Being in community means that you’re deeply known and loved, which can’t happen in massive groups. A small group of people who are meeting together regularly, not neglecting their time together, and encouraging one another in the faith is the kind of Biblical community Hebrews 10:23-25 talks about,
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
What is the Purpose of Community?
1. Community Reflects God’s Nature
In Genesis 1:26-27, “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.”
These verses reference the Trinity. God is three persons but one God. So even the triune nature of the Godhead is one of community.
In the Old Testament, when God raised up a people by the name of Israel, they were a community. Their community reflected the character of God as they celebrated the seven feasts and festivals as a corporate people, not as individuals.
In the New Testament, the Bible says God designed his Church to function as a family. Hence, it’s called a household of faith. Romans 12:4-5 refers to the Church as a body with many interdependent parts.
2. Community Matures Us
Colossians 1:28 says, “We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
The Bible uses the phrase “one another” over 50 times. Let’s look at a few examples:
- Instruct and teach one another. (Romans 15:14)
- Serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
- Bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
- Admonish one another. (Colossians 3:16)
- Encourage one another and build one another up. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another. (James 5:16)
And these are imperatives in Greek, which means that these are commands.
This is precisely what Proverbs 27:17 addresses, “Just as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The friction caused when we are doing life together results in growth.
3. Community Helps Us See Our Sin
We hesitate to live in community because we don’t want people to know the real us. It’s easier not to get personal. We are good at wearing masks. But, deep down, we think if we were to meet with somebody regularly and intimately, our flaws would cause them to run away. The irony is that even though we fear people seeing our faults, most people are drawn to authenticity. The pain of temporary chaos outweighs the “peace” of permanent superficiality.
How do we achieve this authenticity in our communities?
- Give up trying to please everyone. Don’t withhold pieces of yourself to appease people.
- Share your passions and beliefs, even if someone might disagree or disapprove.
- Acknowledge when you’re wrong instead of hiding it or putting a positive spin on it.
4. Community Extends God’s Kingdom
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Community is not about you. It’s about reflecting the character of God. People in our world are hungry to hear stories of freedom and redemption.
After 9/11, churches were filled with people desperately praying for answers. Churches were addressing the need of people looking for hope. True community is powerfully evangelistic.
The great apologist Francis Schafer wrote, “Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful. Christian community is the final apologetic.”
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the tragic downfall of high-profile pastors. How many of these men had someone who could look them in the eyes and say, ‘How are you doing?’ It is dangerous not to live in community.
So, are you experiencing community with other followers of Christ? Do you have anybody with whom you can speak openly and honestly about your struggles and weaknesses?
- When was the last time you instructed someone or were instructed, not in a Bible study class, but community?
- When was the last time you served someone or bore someone’s burden?
- When was the last time you admonished someone, or someone admonished you?
- When was the last time you encouraged someone, confessed your sins to someone or prayed for someone in your presence?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. People who seek fellowship without solitude plunge into the void of words and feelings, and people who seek solitude without fellowship plunge into the bottomless pit of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair.”
What is God saying to you, and what will you do about it?
- Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you’ve never taken this step, you can begin a personal relationship with Him by texting “Salvation” to 469-551-3065.
- Do you have a church family? Get involved in a life group, Sunday school class, or Bible study in a local church to find your community.
- Do you have people who hold you accountable in your faith? Find a handful of people to meet regularly and be honest with each other.
God never created us to go through life alone. We need each other. Biblical community is the answer to what our souls have been longing for!