And, by community, I mean the church gathered. Wayne Grudem states, “The church is the community of all true believers for all time.” In other words, the church is made up of those who are truly saved.
It’s important – no, crucial – to be part of a community of true believers.
Mark Driscoll says this,
The Bible speaks of church membership in relational terms – as members of one body and as members of the household of God – so that God’s people live as a gospel community and help one another grow in Christ and reach others for Christ.
Paul describes the community of believers like this:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 ESV
Last week, a man called the church and needed gas for his car. I met him at the corner, and as we waited for his tank to fill, I asked him if he is part of a local church. His response was no. So, I encouraged him to attend my church, and I told him how the community of believers takes care of its own. I told him, too, that I was happy to meet his physical need, but that he also had a spiritual need. I shared the gospel as best I could. He promised me he would see me Sunday morning.
He never showed up.
Community is important. As believers, we are part of the larger community of faith, and we are called to be part of the local community of faith. We not only ‘devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching’, but we enjoy fellowship, encouragement, and worship. And, we share with each other not only in joy, but in sorrow.
When a family loses a child on a river bank in a thunderstorm.
When a husband learns his wife has been unfaithful.
When a teenager is getting her stomach pumped because she wanted to end it all.
When a husband and dad is fired from his job and is dealing with feelings of shame and regret.
When a friend is burned out on life and makes decisions that are self-destructive.
When there is despair, hopelessness, pain, hurt, void, anger…
…pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6 ESV
Sharing joy…and, sorrow. That is seeing the gospel in community, the evidence of grace among us.