By Keith B.
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Acts 2:42 (MSG)
My parents raised me in a Southern Baptist church. Other than my college years, I attended and remained involved in church most of my adult life. Pastors, teachers, friends all referenced the Acts and the New Testament church when emphasizing the importance of building community with other believers. I guess I believed that, thought I never could really explain why living in community had value. I didn’t really know what community meant.
My counselor Ken reminded me of who God is not long after I began meeting with him almost two years ago.
“God exists as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” he said. “We receive life from the Father, we can live in relationship with God because of the sacrifice of the Son, and we receive direction daily through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”
That simple explanation helped me change my way of thinking about God. I started viewing Him as three parts of one whole, not as three separate entities. So what does that have to do with me and how I live my life?
I attend a cool Bible study on Thursday mornings. Two friends and I decided to start a group to study God’s word, develop intimate relationships with other men, and practice community. Last week, Brian led us through a discussion on the necessity, not the importance, the NECESSITY of community. Those of you who know me know I steal ideas shamelessly for my writing, so I am “re-purposing” Brian’s incredible lesson. I am at least giving credit, not something I always remember to do!
First, God designed us to live in community. He created us in His image. I read that so many times in Genesis but missed the point. His image isn’t singular. His image is three in one, the ultimate example of community.
In 2 Corinthians 13:11, Paul gave a final reminder that if we live in peace together, then God will be with us and bring us joy and peace. Most of my life, I lived in isolation. I attended church, Bible studies, groups. I had a relationship with my wife and sons. What I didn’t have was joy and peace, or true intimacy and honesty. I certainly didn’t bring peace to any of those relationships.
Because I didn’t open myself up fully to true intimacy and community, I missed the real blessings that come from living in God’s design. Romans 12:10 says we should love each other with “genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.” God’s design for us to live in community with others allows Him to love us through others. He also wants us to live as a body so we can learn from each other. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us to forgive each other “just as through Christ, God forgave you.”
I started experiencing community through my recovery group meetings, sitting in a tight circle, sharing my garbage, and experiencing grace and love. Practicing intimacy through those groups allowed me to live in community in my Bible study class at church, in my recovery worship at Prodigal on Saturday nights, and most importantly with my wife and boys, slowly practicing God’s design for me…life in community, not in isolation.