The ladder crashed to the ground outside, and instantly I jumped up from the couch. Before I reached the front door, I heard my husband’s cries, “Help! Help!” I raced to the area of the roof he was working on and found him flat on his back, unmoving. Blood poured from his chin and his forehead, already pooling in his ear and behind his head. I called emergency services while our oldest son grabbed towels to staunch the flow.
As first responders arrived on scene, neighbors came from all directions to help, as well. Thankfully, my husband’s injuries didn’t appear to be life-threatening but still warranted an ambulance ride to the Emergency Room, where some of our church family joined us. In the midst of my fear, I felt so grateful not to be alone.
While we waited for stitches and x-ray results, I heard another call come over the radio. A woman had overdosed on heroin, and paramedics were bringing her to the E.R. for treatment, as well. I remember wondering if she had people to care for her like our neighbors, family, and church family did for us. I wondered if anyone was praying for her in her time of need, or if she might be all alone.
Why We Need Christian Community
When the cry of “Man down!” sounds, who shows up in your life?
Many of us are blessed with a caring community of people who step in when accidents happen or tragedy strikes. A community that works together like family is one of the benefits of the body of Christ, after all. We all need help once in a while, people to hold us up physically when life gets us down. How much more difficult might life be if you lacked people to count on in times of great need?
But friend, do you realize you also need people to hold you up spiritually?
In the days following my husband’s accident, some of his greatest needs weren’t physical. He felt out-of-sorts due to not being able to work. Discouragement was a frequent companion. His lifting and diet restrictions caused him to feel helpless. The kind words, prayers, Bible verses, and thoughtful gifts from others kept him going during his six-week recovery.
What the Bible Says about Being Built for Christian Community
The Bible tells us to “encourage the disheartened” and to “build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14). Scripturally speaking, there is no such thing as a lone wolf Christian. In fact, we were built for Christian community from the very beginning of time when God said it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).
Our Creator set the example for us by walking in the garden with Adam and Eve, fellowshipping with them and deepening their relationship with Him.
The Greek term for fellowship associated with the early church is koinonia. We first come across this word in Acts, at the time of Pentecost when the body of Christ was first formed. The Holy Spirit came to each and every believer as God’s presence was restored to mankind for the first time since the Fall. What a day! After this time, believers practiced koinonia almost constantly!
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42 (NIV – emphasis mine)
Strong’s defines koinonia as partnership, participation, fellowship, communication, and so forth. It is a unique partnership that connects us both to the Father, and to one another, through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:9, 2 Cor. 13:14, 1 John 1:3). As such, koinonia begins with God and extends to us, co-heirs with Christ.
Community – God’s Great Gift
What a beautiful gift God has given us in the form of spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ – a whole family of believers to help us along the way in our faith journey, to encourage us to focus on the work in progress, to comfort us when we grieve, to provide for us when we cannot provide for ourselves, to exhort us to “walk in the light” rather than the darkness. But like any gift, we must decide whether to make use of it or not.
As Christians, we need a strong, godly community of believers to help hold us up when we feel weak, discouraged, overwhelmed, tempted, incapable, and hopeless. The Bible cautions us not to give up fellowshipping with one another because we need the encouragement that comes from gathering together with other believers in order to stay spiritually healthy!
Remember, we were built for Christian community from the very beginning.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV
But encourage one another daily as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
The word “encourage” (and its derivatives) appears thirty-nine times in the New Testament alone, which tells us it is an important concept for believers to pay attention to. Let me ask you, friend, do you have godly people in your life to hold you accountable, to bring you joy, to spur you on in doing right, to lift you up when you feel down? Are you seeking Christian community, fellowship with believers, or have you been avoiding it?
The family of God is one of God’s greatest gifts, but often we fail to take advantage of it. We’d rather battle on alone, even though we know that the battle is spiritual in nature, not physical (Ephesians 6:12).
Why do we snub such a precious gift? Because we’re stubborn, prideful people.
We’d rather be self-reliant than admit weakness.
We see weakness as bad. We tell ourselves we don’t want to “put others out.” We don’t want to be perceived as needy or cause inconvenience to them. We’re afraid what they might think of us. Maybe they’ll think our faith is weak? Maybe our relationships can’t handle the strain? Lies. All of them. And we know who lies come from, don’t we, friend? The great deceiver himself.
Built for Community – The Church Deployed
Let me encourage you instead to let a brother or sister in Christ lend a helping hand, bear your burdens.
Ask for prayer and accountability. Ask for guidance or a shoulder to cry on. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, we might get hurt once in a while, but it’s absolutely worth the risk! Likewise, choose to be that kind of Christian, one others can trust and count on in times of spiritual need. After all, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 claims:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (NIV)
Let’s be unbreakable, especially in these dark times with society all askew and pandemic’s threatening our health. Now is the time, church, to live like we have a hope the world around us lacks! Recently on social media, I read a meme that said “The church isn’t empty. She’s just been deployed.” Friend, we are built for Christian community, and we cannot “be the church” on our own. It’s impossible!
Father God, let it be true of each one of us! Let us be both helpers and those who need help. Help us find ways to relish the gift of koinonia even as we practice social distancing for health reasons. Mold us into the beautiful Bride of Christ Your Word describes! At the same time, Lord, remind us many around us are missing this kind of community, many yearn for it. Make us bold witnesses during these frightening times. Let us show your love through community with others who don’t yet know You. All for your glory, Lord. All for your glory.
How can you live as the Body of Christ today, friend?
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