Christian community often lives within the closed walls of the church meeting. While there, believers are kind to one another, open doors for each other, give up their seat for another and are pretty well behaved most of the time. We exhibit our best behavior on the church grounds, and we call that Christian community. But is that what God meant when He spoke about Christian community and Christian fellowship in the Bible?
The heart of the gospel is life and that more abundantly. This abundant life that Jesus promised is far beyond what the prosperity preachers promote. The abundant life in Christ begins spiritually. Spiritual abundance manifests in the physical realm as physical abundance. It’s important to make this differentiation because physical abundance without spiritual abundance is empty.
John 10:19 The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The word “more” (Gr. perissos) in this verse is literally translated, “in excess of.” Think about that for a moment. Jesus is saying he wants to give us life in excess of abundance. Wow! That’s nothing to dismiss lightly. What on earth would a life that exhibits an excess of abundance be like?
Christian Community Enables the Excess of Abundance
It’s my firm belief that this ‘excess of abundance’ can only happen when Christian community thrives. Is this sound reasoning? Let me provide a clear example from God’s Word about Christian community, fellowship and abundance.
Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
This is God’s Word speaking to us. Notice several things about this. First, the believers were “of one heart and mind.” They were in agreement with God and with each other; there were no schisms. “Getting along” is the first key to Christian fellowship. This requires us not to judge each other in insignificant matters, to forgive one another when offenses occur, and to be meek enough to God’s Word so we can learn what it really says and change our thinking when we are shown something we didn’t see or believe before in that Word.
The second thing I see is sharing. Great sharing. Selfless sharing. Christian community thrives when we are not selfish with what God has given us, but we are willing to share with others the greatness of what God has blessed us with. This section in Acts describes more than lending someone five dollars until next week. It speaks of more than borrowing and returning. These first century believers considered nothing ‘their own.’ They realized they were part of a community of other believers and that some were lacking in various ways. Instead of comforting those less fortunate and offering to lend them aid, they gave freely out of whatever they had.
Are you seeing a connection between a thriving Christian community and excess of abundance? I sure do. That’s why I believe that a thriving Christian community is necessary for believers to live this more abundant life that Jesus promised.
The more abundant life begins spiritually, You’re born into God’s family when you confess Jesus is Lord and believe God raised him from the dead. God gives you the gift of holy spirit, called “incorruptible seed’ in I Peter 1:23. From then on you are God’s child, having been born into His eternal family. You’ve been blessed with great spiritual abundance in that gift and now God wants to show you how to release that power in the physical realm. He wants to teach you how to “walk in the spirit.”
How to Manifest Spiritual Abundance
How do you manifest that spiritual abundance?
2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down arguments, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Romans 12:1,2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will —his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Walking by the spirit begins by training your mind to think the thoughts of God. We often call this,”practicing the presence of God.” We practice it because our carnal minds rarely if ever acknowledged God in our thoughts and our actions. How can one think as God would think in a situation if he or she doesn’t know how God thinks?
In Christian fellowships, church meetings and classes if you will, we learn God’s Word. We learn how God thinks about everything that has to do with life and godliness. We put our thoughts in subjection to God’s Word and we begin to walk in His will. This is the very heart of walking by the spirit.
Walking by the spirit is more than cleaning up our lives. It’s way beyond that. God wants us to live holy lives, but living that holy life in a closet doesn’t help anyone else. Getting involved in Christian community however changes all of that. When Christians think about the spiritual and physical welfare of other Christians in their midst more than their own welfare, true fellowship ensues. True fellowship distributes this spiritual abundance and manifests in people helping each other with physical things as well.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
John 13:34 ”A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Helping one another physically and financially is an integral part of Christian community. Christian fellowship thrives when believers are selfless. Loving one another involves much more than thinking nicely of one another and being kind to one another. It requires us to reach down and discover what’s truly real in this life and helping others grow into that.
There are many verses about Christian fellowship in Acts and in the New Testament epistles. Google “Christian fellowship” and see what comes up, or use a Strong’s concordance and look up the word, “fellowship.” School yourself in God’s Word, don’t wait for someone like me to come along and teach you. Dig deeper into God’s Word and learn what He has to say about these things, then apply what you’re learning.
Christian community has to live outside the church building and the church meeting. It has to live in your heart, in your home and in your small community. Gather together with other Christians in your area outside the meeting and build true Christian community. Church meetings are great for building yourself and each other up, for learning God’s Word (albeit you shouldn’t limit yourself to what you’re fed in these meetings alone), and for worshiping and praising God. But what about the community of believers we read about in the Book of Acts? How would you like to see that kind of Christian community? How would you like to see Christians with no lack whatsoever because of the great giving going on?
I challenge you to start meeting with Christians with a view toward building true Christian community outside the church building and fellowship meetings. See what God is able and willing to do in your area and experience the truly “in excess of abundance” life. It’s yours for the living.