“Community” isn’t a Christian thing. People worldwide are part of communities. However, because of sin, the beliefs, practices and values of human communities are, at their core, in rebellion against God. But when Jesus died and rose from the dead, he redeemed people from slavery to sin. He’s made us children of God. He’s fundamentally changed us, and so he’s also fundamentally changed how Christians relate to each other in community. Here are three ways Jesus has changed community.
1. The Resurrection Reorganizes Community
In traditional cultures, family is the center of community. That’s why, in those cultures, forms of arranged marriage exist. They see marriage as families—not individuals—coming together.
Alternatively, in Western cultures, community tends to be based on common interest. So, people around us might spend a lot more time with others who enjoy playdates at the local park or CrossFit workouts than their extended families.
People from both sorts of cultures want community. But because of sin, we make idols of community and the things around which we structure our communities. Jesus’ resurrection, however, reorganizes community.
See, after God revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus said that he was going to found a new community called the “church” (Matt. 16:13-19) and that wherever people gather in his name, he’s among them (Matt. 18:15-20).
To gather “in his name” means, briefly put, to assemble around God’s Word for the corporate proclamation of the that Word. When we do that, Jesus is present with us in a unique way. He’s with us as the resurrected Son of God, confirming to us our status as children of God.
The resurrection has reorganized community into something better than blood family or affinity groups. Jesus has reorganized community into a new family—the church.
2. The Resurrection Reorients Community
Jesus’ resurrection reorients our attitudes. Colossians 3:1 says “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
Because Christ’s resurrection raises us to a new life, we get to pull what belongs to the future new heavens and new earth into right now. What belongs to heaven? Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians that it’s mainly about our attitudes and relationships (Col. 3:5-4:1). This world tugs on us to be:
- sexually immoral
- angry talkers
But Jesus’ resurrection empowers us to be heavenly, showing:
See, Jesus’ resurrection reorients community such that our attitudes towards each other are based on love. We are to have resurrected attitudes and relationships that look like heaven.
3. The Resurrection Repurposes Community
Community should not be an end in and of itself. That would be idolatry. Instead, Jesus’s resurrection gives community a purpose—namely, to uphold the Gospel.
That’s why Paul calls the local church, “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Our purpose is to set the truth on a pedestal: to platform the gospel.
Christian community exists to make the resurrected Jesus known. It’s not bad to talk about grandkids, enjoy a favorite restaurant, or play sports with other people. But if our gatherings with other Christians are more focused on those things than on making Jesus known to the world, we are engaged in community like the world and not like Christians. Our focus shows us what we really love.
The risen Christ has given us a purpose that’s worth pursuing. And it’s a purpose that we can only pursue in community. So let’s have community to hold up the gospel.
3 Practical Steps
• Repent: Is this the way you view community? The way we view and engage with community that is around us may have more in common with this present evil age than with the ways Jesus has resurrected it. Let’s consider how we might do that and confess our sins. Our Father is faithful and just in forgiving us.
• Retool: Take two minutes to brainstorm a few things you can do to help your Christian community serve the purpose God created it for. What are questions you could ask, suggestions you could make, or activities you could initiate?
• Rejoice: Rejoice that Jesus is risen! This historical fact is the one moment that has changed us forever—into a brand-new community who worship him together.