Faith In Community

“We who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” ~Romans 12:5

Romans 12 deals with the corporate life of the Church. Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, being transformed, developing the mind of Christ (12:1-2) — all of this takes place in community.

Our Western individualistic traditions can make this a problem. We can very easily, I think, see ourselves as doing what’s necessary to be saved and living together in the community of faith as two different, not necessarily related, things.

But all of Holy Scripture refutes that notion. We are called to be together.

Paul’s teaching in Romans 12 is that we cannot fully renew our minds without the active help of other believers. We can’t fully understand what Scripture teaches apart from dialogue with others who are reading the same Scripture. We cannot live our lives as disciples of Christ outside the nurturing context of a community of believers who encourage us, pray for us, and set examples for us. We can’t always discern the blind spots in our obedience to God without fellow believers to point them out.

Sometimes we think of ourselves “more highly than we ought” (12:3) and conclude we don’t really need anybody’s help.

More directly, we participate in the life of the Church to help others grow. “We have different gifts according to the grace given us” (12:6). Whatever gift you’ve been given, you are under obligation to your Lord to use it to serve his people. Other Christians need what each of us has to offer. As the human body is at a disadvantage without a foot, or an eye, or a kidney, so the Church is harmed when the full array of gifts are not being exercised within it.

So if you’re not involved, GET INVOLVED! If you’re not serving someone, SERVE SOMEONE! If you’re not participating, PARTICIPATE! Not only are you missing out, you’re depriving me of Christian growth if you’re not an active member of the Lord’s Church.

Peace,

Allan

5 Comments

  1. Rob's Dad

    How much is too much? How do you know when to say no? I ask this as a hypothetical because I’m certainly not doing too much in any of these three areas. However for the more fully engaged person, how can they know when to say when?

  2. jason reeves

    In the context of Romans 12 Paul asserts there is no letting up or backing down from faithfulness (knowing “when to say ‘no'” or when you’ve taken on too much must be evaluated as we take spiritual inventory of our own lives of faith). The crux of Romans 12 is fidelity and faithfulness on the part of the believer as he/she serves the Father (and as you’ve pointed out: within the context of the community of faith).

    “In view of God’s mercy” – because of what God has accomplished, and extends, through Jesus Christ; we are to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” – spiritually alive, denying, putting to death, anything and everything which would conflict with our relationship with the Father; we are to offer ourselves “holy and pleasing” to God – our lives lived as sanctified offerings in submission to our Lord; and then… Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that living and serving and committing to God in this way – is worship of God. Laying on its ear the concept that worship is solely relegated to one or two hours a week. Worship is rather what we do and what we are to be about 24/7.

    All of our lives of faith, integrated and participating in the amazing, overarching, glorious manifestation of the Kingdom of God, as revealed in the life of the Church!

    What a challenge! What a calling!

    Good stuff!

    Later.

    Jason

  3. Antique Mommy

    One way to increase community among a body as large as ours is to not selectively sing Happy Birthday to those who are better known or better connected (especially in context of a worship service!) as it smacks of favoritism which Paul makes strong admonishments against.

  4. Rob's Dad

    It was Happy Birthday and it took all of 30 seconds including the intro and the clapping. Perhaps this is exactly one of the ways to increase community. Not everyone will have a birthday on a Sunday and not everyone will want to be recognized but did it really harm anyone? If it did, then we shouldn’t do it however I wonder if those who feel that way possibly have their focus in the wrong place.

  5. Allan

    I thought it was inappropriate, too. But I’ve been having a hard time putting my finger on why I feel that way. Why do I feel like it’s out of place to sing Happy Birthday to an 18-year-old in that assembly context but I feel like it’s very appropriate for us to recognize a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary?

    There are a thousand of us. Yes, there are 990 of us, probably, who won’t have Happy Birthday sung to us during church. So, that’s a real consideration. Why do some get sung to and some don’t? I think that probably does send the wrong message to the body. Even if that message is nowhere on the mind of the one requesting the song or the one leading it. And it has nothing to do with being known better or being better connected. I think one person asked another person if we could do it, and the next thing you know, it happened. Probably with very little or no thought as to the message it would send. That’s regrettable and it needs to be considered. But I guarantee that if ANYBODY had asked him to sing Happy Birthday for ANYBODY he would have gladly obliged.

    As for why I think recognizing 50th anniversaries is different: Not everybody hits a 50th anniversary. In a world in which half of all marriages end in divorce, maintaining that relationship for 50 years is to be commended. Seeing that marriage is upheld in our Scriptures as a relationship that should reflect the love our Father has for the Son and the Son has for the Church is also reason to celebrate it publicly with the family. We uphold those marriages as examples for godly people to follow. You can point to a 50-year marriage and see the Gospel.

    Everybody turns 18. There’s nothing theological about it.

    Now, does that make sense or is that a cop-out?

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