In this age of the internet, social media and lifestreaming etc, I have often wondered what community really means to different ones. I recently tried to join a Facebook community a friend highly recommended and to my dismay, there was no more space for new members!
We were created by God for a relationship and as believers, we can only grow in Christlikeness and build his Kingdom in the context of community. The Biblical community has the aspect of togetherness, warmth, and renewal. Such a community experiences sharing, participation, fellowship, encouragement and “not neglecting to meet together.” (Heb 10:24)
Love and grace are like the relational glue that holds a biblical community together. Loving God and loving each other, Jesus said, summarizes all the commandments. Love is of first importance in Kingdom relationships!
Paul reminds us of our identity as well-loved children, who should imitate our Father by following his example of love (Eph 5 :1). We are truly loved by God, who loved us when we were still sinners, sent Jesus to “die our death that we could live his life as his children,” blessed with every spiritual blessing, chosen, holy and blameless (Eph 1:3-4). We know that because we are so loved we can walk in love (esteeming and delighting in one another) as Christ loved us and gave up himself for us (Eph 5:2).
When we love we can give up ourselves and count others better than ourselves. We can delight in the value the Father puts on those that bear his image, having what some have called “unconditional positive regard.” We can keep dying to our selfishness and self-centeredness. When we know whose we are and who we are then we can love well.
Love is both an attitude of the heart and an action. The Holy Spirit by whom the love of God has been poured into our hearts (Rom 5:5), is always prompting our hearts and minds to attitudes and actions of patience, kindness, rejoicing with others, humility, honoring others, seeking the best for others. When we respond to the Holy Spirit we need not be reminded to love, because God teaches us to love each other, and do it more and more (1Thess 4:9-10).
Grace is free, unmerited and unearned favor! God, by His grace, has saved us, not because of anything we did. As a result, we are forgiven and his grace has covered our shame and emboldened us to approach his throne without fear. We have peace with God. Grace among us is demonstrated as we forgive and show kindness and compassion to each other as God has done to us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:32b). In Matt 18:21-35 Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant, who was forgiven by his master what he could never repay in a lifetime ( an act of kindness and compassion) but could not forgive another servant the little that was owed him. The master had the unforgiving servant thrown to the jailers to torment him. It is probable that unforgiveness holds us in jail, causing one us to lose our freedom (not salvation) in Christ and to be tormented by the evil one.
Unforgiveness hinders us from experiencing God’s love and blocks our ability to extend love and grace to others. As someone said, “unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping that the other person dies” and “many sick people carry unforgiveness”. We must keep short accounts, keep no record of wrongs, release others and forgive even when forgiveness is not asked of us like Jesus and Stephen did (“forgive them for they do know what they are doing” (Luk 23:34, Acts7:60).
This is not to say we don’t deal with issues but let’s NOT come from a position of unforgiveness, grudges and vengeance! Sort it first with God!
Are you actively involved in a community (real not virtual), where you are being taught to love God as his child, obeying the command to love as his disciple, and growing in extending grace?
-Mrs. Wanjiku Kimani