Biblical Community – The Problem We Face
R. Kent Hughes writes in Disciplines of a Godly Man:
“There has been an interesting development in suburban architecture. Long gone are the days when homes all had large front porches, with easy access to the front door, enabling one to become quickly acquainted with others in the neighborhood.
Today, architecture speaks more directly to our current values. The most prominent part of a house seems to be the two- or three-car garage. Inside are huge bathrooms with skylights and walk-in closets larger than the bedroom I grew up in. Modern architecture employs small living and dining rooms and now smaller kitchens as well, because entertaining is no longer a priority. Today’s homes boast smaller yards and an increasing incidence of high fences.
Today’s homes reflect our modern values of individualism, isolation, and privatization.
It is no longer unusual to not know the families immediately surrounding one’s house! The average American adult will move at least eleven times in his life, even when his job does not demand it. People move from house to house looking for the elusive ‘something.’ We lack roots, continuity, and community––all of which is to say friendship, deep friendship, has fallen on hard times.”R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man
This isn’t to say that you need to put your house up for sale and buy a new home (especially in this market!); this is just to illustrate the wider problem that we face in 21st Century America: It’s not just friendship that has fallen on hard times, it’s the commitment to living together in community that has fallen on hard times. And this isn’t just true in our neighborhoods, it’s also true in our churches.
We’re tempted (and indoctrinated by our culture) to think that we don’t need deep relationships and we highly value rugged, determined individualism.
The problem with all of this, of course, is not that we’ve moved away from a time in society when people sat on their front porches with family or neighbors. The problem is that we’ve moved away from the biblical concept of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously called “Life Together.” We’ve abandoned true biblical community.
Kent Hughes, again: “Tragically, those who think this way rob themselves, their [spouses], their children, and the church because they will never be all God wants them to be. Such thinking ignores the wisdom of both Scripture and life…. Being a Christian is a relationship with the triune God through Christ and with his body, the church. God becomes our Father; we become eternal brothers and sisters.”
Deeply embedded in our faith is the concept of relationship: Relationship with God, and relationship with one another. Christianity is about being brought into community––true community––with the people of God.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to use this blog to help us consider the biblical basis of Christian community. We’re going to look into the Scriptures together to see what the Bible says and consider what difference it should make in our life together here at Mountain Creek.
As we begin, it’s important for us to remember the words of James:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22–25James 1:22–25
In the weeks ahead as we think about biblical community, may we not just be those who hear the word, let us also be those who go out and live what it teaches.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.