Christian Community is difficult to define – but it seems to be something many Christians are looking for. Many families around the country are looking for a home church that will give them a safe haven for their families. So, families are looking for a church that will give them this sense of belonging and safety.
But, true Christian community does not come without a cost. Christian community means a good deal of give and take – giving of ourselves and taking on the Lord Jesus Christ. A good definition of Christian community can be found in Philippians 2:1-11. Here we find the following attributes of Christian Community:
Philippians 2:1-2:”Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
At Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church, this includes a unity on doctrinal positions, as well as some areas of Christian living. Our church is committed to the Westminster Standards, the Reformed Faith, family integrated worship, a covenantal view of Scripture, weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper and baptism (as the Lord allows), and biblical Presbyterian government. But, as a people, we are also committed to Christian education for our children, complementation family structure, Christian moderation in our deportment and our thoughts life, and “Titus 2” accountability.
Note – this does not mean that we need to agree on every aspect of the Christian life. This is impossible this side of Heaven. Thus, as we have received grace from our Lord in our salvation, so we believe it is important to be gracious with one another. As the Puritan preacher Richard Baxter said, “In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.”
The Bible calls this comfort of love. Loving one another, sacrificially, is love in action. We not only focus on our needs, but we consider the needs of those around us. This sort of love will flourish and grow as we learn more of the love of the Savior.
Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” When we realize who we really are, sinners at the mercy of our Sovereign God, and that we have nothing praiseworthy within ourselves, we in a position to thrive in Christian community. Too often Christian community has failed because of the pride of men who falsely believe they have a corner on the truth. A true understanding of Scripture reveals both respect for biblical government in the home and in the church, and a realization that any truth we have is given to us from the Holy Spirit. We can check our pride at the door.
We come to understand that all Christians are being sanctified, and we are all at different steps of the process. Each member of the Body of Christ is not only valuable but necessary, for the proper functioning of the Body. We are all members of His Body – we need to remember this and rejoice in the giftings He has given to each other! And, instead of focusing on our needs, we seek to meet the needs of our neighbor.
We find this from Philippians 2:4-11. When we understand the mind of Christ, the humility of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ, we the path to unity. We find that real honor and glory come from laying down our lives for each other. When we see this, our own opinions, priorities, and divisions stop and serving one another with the attitude of Christ becomes our priority.