Building a Better Community

When we look for community, our basic tendency is to ask, what will this community do for me? Will they like me? Will they accept me? Can they help me?

The biblical approach to community is very different. Instead of asking, what can this community do for me, it asks, what can I do for this community? How can I love it, serve it, and accept it?

A great description of this perspective is found in Romans 15:1–13. It was a community with significant differences based on the different perspectives of Jews and Gentiles who both believed in Jesus. There was significant reason to think that either this community would not be good for them or to think that everyone had to be the same in order to make it a supportive community. Instead, God told them how to do it.

  1. We bear with each other (v. 1). Every person we meet will be at a different place than us. On a variety of biblical issues, moral issues, and character, there will be significant differences. We need to recognize that people progress at different levels at different rates with different thinking and bear with others. Love is patient.
  2. We seek to please others (v. 1b and 2a). We should not approach things in such a way that wants everything to be our way. We should be ready to yield, especially in matters that are indifferent. It is a totally different perspective to ask, what would please others here rather than, what would please me?
  3. We seek to build others up (v. 2). We don’t merely want to leave people where they are. We want to help them grow, to build them up. We should ask not merely, what do I need for my growth, but what would help others grow? We should encourage them when we see them doing good and making progress. We should use words that will help them take the next steps.
  4. We accept people. “Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you.” So often our basic attitude toward others is judgment. What if our basic attitude was acceptance? I think it’s important to see that this not only means that we love people. We like them. We appreciate them. We value the gifts and good things they bring to the table.
  5. If we followed these prescriptions, this would make a better community. Everyone would be loved, everyone would be cared for, and everyone would be encouraged.

    So, where do we get the idea that this is the way we should build community? Jesus.

    Jesus led the way. That’s how He lived. He thought of others and their good. He did not please Himself. He was willing to bear with people and move toward them, even when they reproached Him (v. 3).

    It’s important, however, that we see how Jesus was able to live this way. He was able to live this way because His life wasn’t centered in other people. His life was centered on His heavenly Father. He was filled with all joy and peace because He trusted in His heavenly Father. And that’s how we can get the power to build a better community. We need to love people, but we need to be centered on the Father.

    From our perspective, we are centered on a relationship with the Triune God. We are centered on the fact that we as believers have a loving relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    Note what God says to us in Romans 15:7, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” When we believe that Christ has accepted us, then we will be in a position to accept others. And note, Jesus not only loves us, He likes us. He made us and values who we are and the gifts and good things we bring to the table. He gave Himself on the cross to cover our sins. When our lives are centered on this fact, then we will be in a position to build a better community.


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