Sunday, January 26, 2014

365 Days with God - Day 37: Christian Community

I'm giving myself a challenge. Read the Bible each day for a whole year, following the ESV Study Guide 1-year plan. Each day, I will post whatever God has revealed to me in His Word, and how it is changing me. A friend of mine once said that nothing has changed her life as much as reading the bible each day - and I'm excited for how this will change me. Join me on an adventure into the heart of God - and day by day, we can learn more about who He is and what that means to us!

- Andy Catts

Day 37, January 26, 2014
Readings: Psalm 36, Genesis 33, 2 Chronicles 10, Acts 2

What do you think of when you hear the words "Christian community?" Do you think of friends and family living life together? Do you think of a weird, occultish gathering? A commune, shut off from the evils of the world, isolating it's members (or perhaps brainwashing them?) In reality, there are all of these things going on in our world. But which one is biblical? Do we have an example?

Many times in my life, I have wanted to get away from the evil of this world. It's certainly tempting to gather all of your close friends and try to shut out all the things that you don't like. It may sound strange to some, but there were times when I definitely just didn't want to deal with the stress and mess of the world we live in. To save my children from the inevitable lure and corruption of sin.

But Christians are called to constantly be growing to be more like Christ. And Christ didn't sit in His perfect, heavenly commune, isolated from the mess we made of His creation. Our God is a missionary God. He left His throne and entered the mess for a purpose. He came to restore and renew the earth. And He called his followers to do the same.

And immediately after His departure, we find ourselves looking in on an interesting scene. Jesus has returned to heaven. It is a deciding moment. What will those left behind do?

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)

Does this sound like any community you've ever known? Does this sound like your Christian community? Have you ever stopped to ask why not? Many passages in the Bible challenge me to reevaluate myself, but this challenges me to reevaluate not only me, but how I relate to everyone around me. What are some key tenants of this kind of community?

- They devoted themselves to learning about who God is and what He has done, remembering through communion and speaking with him in prayer.
- They were together, and shared their possessions for the good of everyone in the community.
- They did not live to make their own lives better, but lived for the betterment of their entire community. It does not say that they gave to Christians as they had need, but to all.
- They ate together every day, remembering together who God is and thanking Him for His generosity.
- They had favor with all the people! Their lifestyle was not exclusionary or judgmental.
- The Lord added to their number daily.

Wow. There's a lot going on here. And it calls me to a different type of community than I've ever known. A community that is centered on God. A community that is lavishly giving to any who have need. A community that has open arms and open doors to the non-Christians around them. A community that is making disciples every day by the power of God.

What would I change if I wanted to live in community like this? How would I rearrange my priorities, change my lifestyle and bring others in? What would our cities look like if Christians acted like this? How would our neighbors view God if this is what His people acted like? This is the revolutionary, redeeming vision that God has for His people. Are we living it?

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