By Brock Bondurant
Acts 2:42 – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
While the early Church wasn’t perfect, they got some things right in their discipleship to Jesus. Perhaps their most admirable quality was they simply did life together. They gathered, devoting themselves to practicing the way of Jesus. There were no lights or stage; just someone’s home. No coffee bar or popcorn machine; just bread and wine. No fancy, tailored message with slides; just straight Gospel. No celebrity pastor; just a simple fisherman telling everyone about his risen best friend – rumbling, bumbling, and stumbling in service to the Holy Spirit. They made much of Jesus – together.
Practicing the way of Jesus is not a solo endeavor. It is meant to be done in the fellowship of other believers. In order to be transformed into Christlikeness we have to look to one of God’s favorite tools: Community. God himself lives in community. And Jesus modeled community with imperfect people like me and you.
Genesis 1:27 states that we were created in the image of God. So that means that we are all inherently valuable beyond belief. Our differences then, physical appearance or personality type, are beautiful reflections of a beautiful God. You carry a unique piece of the God of all things inside of you. To know God more, I need to be in relationship with you. Community is God’s plan for the renewal of all things back to himself. We participate in that by coming together in His name.
Community is part of God’s ultimate plan to usher in the Kingdom as we take part in Jesus’s victory. So why does it feel like we’re losing?
Well, Satan doesn’t want us to do life together. He comes only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He does it subtly, one chip at a time. Satan attempts to use God’s beautiful differences in us to separate us. He wants us divided based upon our skin color, nationality, and gender. He uses politics and the media to manipulate and disarm us. While we’re distracted, fighting one another over mask politics and whether or not to be vaccinated, the Enemy is stealing pieces of joy from us one negative comment and news story at a time. He stirs us into an “us vs. them” mentality.
We need a WE mentality. We need community.
Perhaps nothing foils the plans of the enemy more than we, the people of God doing life with one another, finding God’s beauty implanted in each. It’s no coincidence that the greatest commandment in all of Scripture according to Jesus is to love the LORD your God and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-40). God and your neighbor are divinely intertwined. The person with a different skin tone or personality type is not God, but they reflect God in a unique way. To see people as images of God is to go on a divine scavenger hunt for pieces to a puzzle portrait of the God of the Universe.
No factor might be more influential on our spiritual formation, our discipleship to Jesus than being in community with other people who show us a unique image of God, who show us our flaws, uplift us in tough times, and spur us on to love and good deeds. As a member grows, the community grows, and vice versa.
So try a local church where people gather to hear God’s Word preached. Invite your neighbor to dinner. Look at folks with a renewed perspective. Ask yourself “What is the image of God reflected in this person?” If we are to practice the way of Jesus for transformation we have to come together no matter our political affiliation, ethnicity, or neighborhood that we’re from. Nothing else scares the devil more than all of us doing life together.
Today, who needs an encouraging word? Who might need a battle buddy in a tough time? Who might partner with you for the renewal of all things? We get to share His love in a world so desperate for it.