As our societies become more and more individualistic, with people often finding themselves isolated, especially in times of crisis, the concept of Christian community as discipline becomes one of significant importance. In his book, Making All Things New, Henri Nouwen writes: “Community as discipline is the effort to create a free and empty space among people where together we can practice true obedience . . . . To create space for God among us requires the constant recognition of the Spirit of God in each other.”
Recently I observed a question and answer time with someone who was being considered for a church leadership position. One of the questions was worded something on the order of: “What are your strengths and weaknesses and how do you compensate for them?” Later in the day I was reflecting on what kind of answer one would give to such a question. We all have strengths; we all have weaknesses, and this is a common interview question. It occurred to me; however, that part of why we are called to be a body and why community is so important to the church is exactly because of this diversity of strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps the best answer to the last part of that question might be that we don’t compensate for our weaknesses at all. Maybe it is better to recognize them for what they are and realize that there are others in the body who could do those tasks much better than we could!
Read Romans 12. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide as you read through the passage a second time. Highlight or record the words or phrases about community that stand out to you.
Meditate on the words and phrases you noted. Consider the community of which you are a part and reflect on how these words bear upon your understanding of that community. Write your reflections in you journal.
Pray for your community. Bring to God the concerns that have been laid upon your heart as you read these words from scripture. Give thanks for the ways in which you have experienced community. Pray for guidance to become more intentional about building community.
Contemplate on your current situation in community.
- Where might you better serve others?
- Are there areas you might consider giving up so that someone else can serve?
- Is there someone you could come alongside who might be encouraged to be a more active participant in the community?
- Is there someone you could welcome into the community?
- How can you make the practice of community a more disciplined part of your life?
Record your responses and reflections in your journal.