Christian Community Walking with others
It is often said that the largest Christian denomination is ‘Those who used to go to Church.’ A multitude of reasons lie behind this, but whatever else might be said it is clear that Church-as-Community is no longer an appealing concept for very many people.
My own personal conviction is that Church-as-community is such a vital, life-shaping concept that it is fundamental to faith for us all.
Learning to walk through life and work with other believers, in submission to Christ, and in harmony with one another, is a major plank in my understanding of what living as a Christian means.
V 14. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.
Learning to walk in the Christian pathway along with others is not as simple as it sounds! It is not merely going along with them to a Sunday service, or joining in a Growth Group – the relationships are more demanding than that. I have visited churches (and I guess you have done the same) where members of the congregation distance themselves from one another as they sit down for the service. A sparse and scattered congregation in a church building says a great deal about the relationships that exist between the members. Just look at the verbs Paul uses to enlarge on the quality of relationships he hopes to see:
Warn those who are lazy – that’s difficult unless there is genuine trust.
Encourage those who are timid – you have to understand one another.
Take tender care of the weak – that means valuing such people.
Be patient with everyone – yes, even the most difficult of people.
You simply can’t live an isolated existence, like an island in an ocean of Christians. Paul expects closeness and warmth in relationships.
Today, try to think of other words that might be used to clarify and expand on relationships between Christians in an ideal church.