If you hang around Chi Alpha for any amount of time you will hear the following phrase often:
We want students to find "real community" that leads to a "real devotion life" that develops a "real responsibility" in each person's heart.
It's a foundational phrase that helps everyone understand how our mission and vision play out in everyday lives while we live like Jesus on our campus. The question is what does real community look like? Let's discuss community and create a picture of how being a part of a real community can impact your life forever.
Definition of Community (Webster's Dictionary):
1. A unified body of individuals
2. Joint ownership or participation
What Unifies Us?
1. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
In order to be a community we must have something that unifies us. As Christ followers, our first common unity is the death and resurrection of Jesus. You can not be a christian without wholehearted being a believer in Jesus as the messiah of the world. Jesus' death was necessary to pay for the sins of our hearts (See Roman’s 5:8) and it's His resurrection that broke the power of sin and death in our lives (See John 11:25).
The centrality of the cross, and the salvific work that took place on the cross, is absolutely necessary for the church to be unified in community. Read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2 to help understand this point:
1 Corinthians 2:1 & 2: “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. 2 For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.
Jesus, as the son of God, laid his life down on the cross and paid the price for you and I so that we might be redeemed and set free from the wages of sin and death!
2. The Word of God
The gospel story, as recorded in the Holy Bible, is our main unifying narrative that helps you and I follow in the footsteps of Jesus to reach the world with the good news of Christ’ redemption through grace and mercy. The bible is absolutely necessary to helping each Christ follower understand their true identity in and through Jesus, while providing words of wisdom, perspective, historical remembrance, and prophetic expectation that guides how we are to serve the Kingdom of God. Without the word of God bringing a unified way of living, the church would be vision-less and without purpose. It’s the word of God that describes Jesus (John 1:1-4) and it creates a foundation for us all to stand on while navigating life in a world that has rejected Jesus as king.
3. The Great Commission
As Jesus called the disciples together in Matthew 28, he gave them a mission that would change their lives, and the lives of all future Christ followers forever. That mission is commonly referred to as “the Great Commission” and it tells us to…
“19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This mission should be first and foremost on the heart of every believer causing each one of us to live for something greater than ourselves. Our lives should reflect that call to go into all the world, and to disciple the nations so that souls can be reconciled to Christ for the Glory of God.
4. Living Life For Each Other
As we go on the mission of taking the good news of the cross to the nations as told to us by Jesus, we do so by following the example Christ lived before us. Paul gave us a great description of the life of Jesus in the book of Philippians, chapter 2, where he tells us how we are to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. It’s the pursuit of living like Jesus that unifies us together. Jesus gave his life away… so should we. He sacrificed everything; comfort, wealth, popularity and acceptance, even death… and so must we. Jesus did so because he loved his father, and he loved us, his creation. That same love causes us to live for those around us sacrificially, and when we do love this way, others around us who are not yet Christ followers take notice (See John 13:34 & 35).
Note: If time permits, read Acts 2:42-46. This passage shows the early church community after the day of Pentecost.
Have you ever been in a community that changed how you think and act? What did that look like?
Why does the church look so diverse across the planet? Can we say that we are unified if there are so many differences?
What do you need to change to bring yourself into deeper community with the body of Christ?
For you, of the 4 common unifiers mentioned, which one is the easiest to follow? Which one for you is the hardest to follow?
Read the following prayer of Jesus out loud and make it your closing prayer for your Life Group:
John 17 NLT - The Prayer of Jesus
After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. 2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. 3 And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. 4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.
6 “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.
13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”
By: Robbie Anderson
Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash