“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
— Matthew 18:20 (NRSV)
Though the actual context of the above verse—where Jesus teaches on how to reprove a sinner within the church—is different to the present context, it still demonstrates the power of gathering in community under the name of Christ.
The Spirit of God is there with the throng who gather in harmony with each other.
The key issue, here, is the unity together in community—for, that is what I take the word community to mean: commune (meaning together) in unity = comm-unity.
The Acts 2 (vv. 42-47) Church—where followers of Christ had fellowship together with thankful and glad hearts—is a shining example of God’s vision for community. There is no better experience on earth than feeling thankful and glad with other people—where our perspectives align enough that we can enjoy each other in the experience of simply being alive together.
What is God’s Vision For a Faith Community?
The Acts 2 Church is the resonating exemplar of what community can become; that joy would consist in fellowship together; where freedom of diversity within agreeable bounds was celebrated.
About half a lifetime ago, for me, I really didn’t get this aspect of Christ in community—I didn’t enjoy the small group experience. I detested Bible study in groups. As a young man I had my hang-ups about certain people. This was a barrier to my sharing and my enjoyment and it reflected on others, I am sure. I guess I needed to be broken to understand how broken we all are, and I am thankful for that learning.
God has taught me, that there is grace and peace in community. As soon as I began to see how someone could accept my failings within community—my faults of personality and my shameful experiences of the past—that graced permeated me. Suddenly I could see the glory in our imperfection; this glory going to God as we enjoyed imperfect fellowship under Christ. It was like a switch was turned on—a real miracle moment in my discipleship.
I think God’s vision for a faith community is just that—as represented by Matthew 18:20. When we meet together with grateful hearts and the preparedness for appreciation, we all gain the personal and interpersonal blessings of God.
As we join with God, God joins with us.
As we enjoy fellowship with one another, with no thought for judgment other than to allow the Holy Spirit to judge our own thoughts and behaviours, and to lead us quietly in repentance, we have invited God to dwell in us and with us, and his love abounds.
If we desire God’s Presence, and we should, because there is no better experience for humanity, we should know that God makes his Presence known most obviously in and through enjoyable Christian fellowship.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.