How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Lord, how blessed we are not to be in this world alone, but to have the fellowship of others around us. We know that, as You have promised, You are also a part of every gathering of those who believe in you. Thank You for your presence, Lord, and help us to see Your will for us as we live in community with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.
We are stronger, and even become clearer about who we are and how we fit into the world, when we are in the company of others. Together we can accomplish feats we cannot do alone. The Pilgrims traveled together in ships to a new world and created communities along the Atlantic coast. The pioneers traveled together in wagon trains and created towns in the West, with each person supplying a vital part of what they needed to make the new communities thrive.
Studies have shown that older people who live in community with others, have friends, and regular, positive contacts with family members, are far less likely to suffer from dementia or depression than those who live alone. So whether we are part of a neighborhood and church that provides a sense of community or we are living in a residential care facility with others, being a part of a community can be important to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Yet it can be difficult to live in close proximity with others, can’t it? We all have personal preferences and desires that dictate how we want to live out our days. Sometimes we find it difficult to accept that others may think differently. Throughout our lives, we will connect more easily with some people than with others, but it is easier to get along when believers in Jesus Christ are together in one place. The common faith that binds us is strong, and more important than any personality differences. God, who claims us as His children, binds us together as family.
Perhaps no theologian has spoken so eloquently and comprehensively on the subject of Christian fellowship than the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Like the apostle Paul, Bonhoeffer did much of his writing about the life of believers while he was in prison. He was outspoken in his denouncement of Adolph Hitler and was sent to prison in April, 1943. On April 2, 1945, he was hanged at the concentration camp in Flossenbürg. Following is an excerpt from Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together, which was translated into English and published in the United States in 1954:
“Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.
“What does this mean? It means, first, that a Christian needs others because of Jesus Christ. It means, second, that a Christian comes to others only through Jesus Christ. It means, third, that in Jesus Christ we have been chosen from eternity, accepted in time, and united for eternity.”
God assures us that we have a place and a role to play whether we are part of our chosen community or one not of our choosing due to circumstances. We can always choose to make our community a better place just by determining to play our part in creating an environment of Christian fellowship.
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How can you make your Christian community a better place?
by Nancey Brummette
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Nancy Parker Brummett first led a Bible study in an assisted living setting in 1999 and she and the Lord developed The Hope of Glory in the years that followed. She also journeyed with her mother and mother-in-law through their adventures in aging, and her academic interest in aging led her to receive the Professional Certificate of Gerontology from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. The author of four other books, she now focuses her writing and speaking ministries on her passion for older adults and those who care for them. To learn more about Nancy’s life and work or to subscribe to her blog on aging issues, Take My Hand Again, visit her website.