One of the books I am currently reading is When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community by Joseph H. Hellerman. This is one of those books that holds the potential of being life transforming, so I will be posting a book review in the near future. I’m sharing an excerpt from a section titled, ” Transitioning to a Family-Orient Church Model.” Many are reflecting on what community is and what it might mean in our contemporary context. These words are worth some consideration and thought.
Much has been written in recent years about creating community in the local church. The good news is that we do not need to create community. Indeed, we could not do so even if we wanted to. God has already created His community by saving us into His eternal family. We already are, for better or worse, brothers and sisters in Christ.
Our problem is that we do not often enjoy the kind of community that we sense we should as people who are family in God’s eyes. To reframe the issue in theological terms, our relational reality falls far short of our positional reality, where the horizontal aspect of the Christian life is concerned. Indeed, given the present state of some of our churches, recapturing Jesus’ vision for authentic Christian community may seem like a nearly insurmountable challenge.
I find it immensely encouraging to remember that this is God’s project, not ours, and to remind myself that the Holy Spirit truly longs to knit us together in community as God intends it. God is more than ready to come alongside those who are willing to do the hard work of living life as the new covenant family of God. More often than not, we simply need to figure out how to get out of God’s way in order to let Him do His community-creating work in our lives.