“[The] wise man built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall…[The] foolish man built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” (Matt.7:24-27)
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.” (Acts 2:42-45)
After His ascension from the Jordan where He was baptized, signaling the beginning of His ministry on earth, the very first order of business for Jesus—the foundation He would build upon was not to preach or do miracles. That would come later. It was to gather His disciples so they could experience and begin to model community as He did those other things. Likewise, after the Spirit descended at the Day of Pentecost His first order of business—His foundation for His church was not to send His Apostles out to preach and heal, but again to gather His community. Why, for both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, was this so critical as to take top priority among all other goals they were to accomplish? John 13 tells us God wants His people to be known throughout the world not as much for the love they have for the world, important as that is, but by the love they have for one another. It is that love among the fellowship that fosters and proves discipleship, and paves the way for credible evangelism. True community is the way Jesus and the Spirit did it.
God has always been glorified through His people, moreso than individuals. The Father did not tell Abraham, Isaac, and Israel by them all the nations would be blessed, but that their seeds would be multiplied in to a people through whom the nations would be blessed. Jesus did not tell Peter he would be the solitary rock, but that he would be the rock of the church which would glorify Him. In Hebrews 8 God proclaims of this New Covenant: “And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” In the Book of Revelation Jesus makes His proclamations not to John, but to His churches: His people, His communities.
Great men and women of God are raised up only to lead great communities of God. In his various teachings concerning the church (1 Cor. 14), Paul makes it clear gifts are given to individuals with the express purpose of edifying the body. With God it is never about individuals, but about community. The greatest gift of all according to Paul is “love”, and according to his definition of love “It does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13), which means love must be cultured in community where it can find targets of its affections. Love cannot exist in a vacuum.
Over the centuries here in America our foundation has, simply, vanished in the wake of modern temple worship. We have replaced community with events, “networking,” and a series of meetings held at specific times and places. We have become programmed to believe in meetings as sufficient time with the fellowship: “going to church, Bible studies, mission trips, etc,” is what we have come to think of as community. We have become event-driven rather than community-driven. We have long ago forsaken anything that faintly resembles the church of Pentecost where people “were together, and had all things in common,” for an hour or two on Sundays, another hour or two during the week, social media networking, and perhaps a week on a mission trip now and then.
Given the biblical models, and their critical importance to God, living in community should be priority #1 for those who claim to know Jesus, but it’s not. There is absolutely no New Covenant model that justifies event-driven fellowship, but that’s what we have. Jesus would have not allowed anyone to be called His disciple, or even claim to follow Him, who wanted to fit following in during convenient times when fellowship did not interfere with other priorities. He would have found it unconscionable for a disciple to say, “I’ll see you on Sunday morning and Wednesday night because I have work, family, hobbies, and other priorities to consider.” To such men He would have said, as He did to the Rich Young Ruler, “This you lack, go and deal with it and come follow Me!”
How can the world possibly witness the love for one another Jesus said we are to be known by when we gather at our events for such short periods of time, and those behind the closed doors of our temples, our office buildings and our living rooms? Jesus, the “Carpenter,” was never found building one house of worship. Ever the One who set examples of all He taught, Jesus wanted His community to be out on display: “the city set on the hill.” He preached on mountains, in fields, from boats on shores, and in the streets of the towns His disciples walked in open daylight. The Carpenter wanted His church to be built upon the foundation of community where it could be seen, not events where it was hidden.
When will we stop trying to build upon sand? When will we stop doing everything but gathering in true community when it was God’s top priority for Jesus and His church? Days are coming, and soon, when those who don’t gather in community will simply not survive: spiritually or physically. We will be forced, as in third world countries, to learn to live together and love one another when God shakes the foundations of societies around the world. So why don’t we avoid the rush and begin seeking community now? And what better place to begin, than the place most of us spend the vast majority of our time: our marketplaces?
This is what the Lighthouse Communities of the Marketplace Saints [http://marketplacesaints.net/] is all about: establishing viable, sustainable Christian community around the business populace. Please visit the website, watch this short video [https://youtu.be/9W_RIlCwNjI] and contact me at Reconnectedchurch@gmail.com to get more information. Pray God would bring you in to a community of like-minded kingdom business men and women who are ready to do as Jesus and His disciples did: become that “city set on the hill…that unhidden lampstand” shining a light into a world about to be beset with darkness!