Community. We hear it often. What is your first thought when you hear the word? What are the vibes that run through you when you hear it? Comfort? Assurance? Peace? Only you know. Deep meaning is attributed to the word we so often hear today. Who do you know that really knows the consequences of community? It sounds good. Circulated around us like feathers in the wind are the words: “We can do life together,” or, “You get me!” Yet, the lack of enthusiasm for genuine intimacy is palpable. Instead, flattery hidden behind all things glitzy and snazzy have become our go to “community.” We’re convinced the façade of community is believable. Nonetheless, how do we really experience community?
Greek words cradle the delicacy of community in a buffet of colorful definitions penned centuries ago and hidden in Scripture. The Greek language captured how the early church lived in community. In what manner does their community align with our community, the one we say we have today? The comparison must begin with their unified companionship that was instigated in prayer, while our companionship's are digitized in texts, emails, and social media. Their community surged with intimate association with each other, our community merely convenes. Their community demonstrated mutual (inter-dependence) contribution, our community reflects self-interest, often. Their community esteemed dialogue, our community admires the act of talking to a group.
Still, deeper we must go into the meaning of community as we apprehend the definition of words attributed so often to community. Noah Webster’s dictionary, from 1828, gives us a closer look at the words that buzz around us as unique attributes of a community that we can only aspire to.
Companionship: One with whom a person frequently associates, and converses, a friend. Friends esteem, respect, seek to promote another’s happiness and prosperity, willingly, or cheerfully.
Associate: One frequently in company with another, implying intimacy.
Contribution: That which is given to a common stock or purpose, either by an individual or by many. To lend a portion of power, aid or influence; to have a share in any act of effect.
Dialogue: To discourse together. Discourse is the act of understanding by deducing conclusions from the dialogue. Discourse is seen in individuals, companies, or public assemblies.
What are our communal options today in light of the words you’ve just read? By now the topic at hand is clear. We have Him, His word, and His love in our hearts. Because of His love, we surrender to Him, individually. How have we become prepared to live through inter-dependence with each other as we esteem, edify, and encourage each other through mercy, compassion, and humility? Community…it begins with His trans-formative life in us, and then, through us.
Colossians 3: 12 – 17 (The Passion Translation) You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity. Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful. Let the word of Christ live in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts! Let every activity of your lives and every word that comes from your lips be drenched with the beauty of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. And bring your constant praise to God the Father because of what Christ has done for you!