This pastoral passage was first written for LRBC on May 10 2015.
Do you ever wonder if the purpose of Christian community is short-changed by the expectations we place on it? From time to time, adult Christians go looking for another church in the hope of finding more Christian friends for their children or for themselves. Young people can have a tendency to bother with church only if they think other young people will be there for them. I will admit that there are a few good reasons for switching churches, but I do think something important has been overlooked.
If our expectation of church is that we or our kids can have Christian (i.e. like-minded) friends, then how can we claim that Christian communities are substantially different from any other kind of community made up of like-minded people? We are people who have been blessed enormously: we have the privileges of access to God, the gift of the Holy Spirit together with the new life he grows in us, the grace of a clear conscience before God from the work of Christ on the cross, a part to play in the mission of God, and more. Our common privileges have the potential to create deep relationships with other people that we otherwise have nothing in common with (cf. Colossians 3:11; Romans 10:12). Christian community with this in mind becomes a mutual joy in what we share together as we strive to help each other understand and appreciate what we have all been commonly blessed with. Such community transcends normal human relationships, meaning we are challenged to look past the differences that are normally barriers to friendships with other people, and find fellowship in what we have been commonly blessed with.
Perhaps our experience of church has not been as rich as we would hope, or maybe we just don’t even know what Christian community could be. I hope that this could be a goal for all of us to work towards as we meet together as Christ’s people.