How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.
Jesus The Example
For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were
at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.
How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations despite the unending assaults of government, church and society?
“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.
The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!
When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!
“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!
Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.
I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.
In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!
When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.
“Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth.
If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.
We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.
When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing
His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.
By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.
Power of Community
The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.
If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.
On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, everyone develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.
People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.
The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.
Now that is genuine community!
“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!