Why Does Community Matter?
God’s Word is very clear that believers aren’t simply called to fellowship in mass gatherings. The early church met in the temple (mass gathering), but they also met in homes (small gatherings). This is where they experienced the 59 “one anothers” of the New Testament (“love one another,” “encourage one another,” “bear one another’s burdens,” etc.). This isn’t just an option for believers to consider, it’s a command from our Lord to be obeyed – a command that will only result in furthering our good and His glory.
IT ENABLES US TO GROW
You will never meet a strong, mature Christian who thinks fellowship with a small group of believers is unimportant or optional. That’s why Ephesians 4:15-16 directly links our spiritual growth to being intimately connected with other Christians in our local church. It’s only when we belong to a small group of believers that we learn to forgive, give grace, bear burdens, love our spouses, be real, be hospitable, etc.
IT PREVENTS DECEPTION
Hebrews 3:13 says, “Exhort one another every day that you may not be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” This verse teaches us that we need continual community in order to avoid being deceived. We can’t see many of our sins and weak points. That’s why God gives us one another. To lovingly identify cancerous sins in each other so they can be eradicated from our lives.
IT HELPS RELIEVE OUR BURDENS IN LIFE
Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The trials we face are like heavy backpacks. When we meet together to talk about our hardships, the weight of those burdens is lifted. That’s why we feel so uplifted after talking to someone about our problems. By listening and talking through those issues, that person has helped carry your burden, and, as a result, you feel relieved and more joyful.
IT’S HOW WE EXPERIENCE GOD
1 John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” The words “God abides in us” can also be translated, “God lives among us,” with the idea being that we experience God through one another. Christians are scrambling around trying to figure out how to “experience God’s presence.” The answer is right there in 1 John 4:12: it’s through other loving believers.
IT’S HOW WE ARE HEALED
James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” It doesn’t get any clearer than that. Healing comes when we humble ourselves before one another and confess our sins and pray for one another, and we can’t do that apart from a small community of believers. God has designed us, like parts of a body, to be connected and dependent on one another.