I believe that we’re hard-wired for relationships. No matter how much of an introvert, book-reader, Netflix binge-watcher we are, we were created to be with people. Created to be in community. In the very beginning, when God created a man, he said it wasn’t good enough – he didn’t want him to be alone. And a little earlier in that chapter, we get introduced to a God who himself exists in relationship, before humans even arrive on the scene. He said, “Let us make mankind in our image” (Gen. 1v26). God has always been in a family – Father, Son, and Spirit. They’re in community from page one. And we’re invited into that relationship. But we’re also created to mirror and reflect that family in the world.
We continue to see God working in and through communities of people in scripture, as they engage the world around them and explore faith. And this is especially true in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was always surrounded by a group of people, always placing an emphasis on being known. I think of the woman at the well, and the story of Nicodemus, and the blind beggar, and the Good Samaritan. Not to mention his twelve closest friends that he went everywhere and did life with. And that’s just scratching the surface! He’s a relational savior that wants us to be relational.
So we pick up from where we left off last week. In the last blog we talked about the two sides of what Community Life is at McDowell: knowing and being known. To know, is to give God our minds and hearts – to learn more about who he is, what he’s doing in our lives, how we can develop our personal character to reflect Christ, and how to calibrate ourselves to live in tune with the Spirit.
But there’s something missing. If all we do is focus on our own relationship with Christ we’re leaving out a huge piece of the gospel. And this is where we get to the second part of Jesus’ response in Mark 12, where he says that the greatest commandment is actually a two-parter:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12v30-31).
Sunday mornings are our primary gathering and a great way to start living out Jesus’ word from Mark 12. It’s a place each week we come together to learn scriptures, participate in the bread and cup, worship, and even sometimes serve together – but Sundays are not the end. Instead, Sundays are more like a launching pad for us to move from a larger community, into environments for transformation and sharing life. Environments for eating a meal together. Environments for sharing our story and learning from other people’s stories. Environments for encouraging and praying for one another, helping each other become better followers of Jesus and live out the teachings of Jesus, and sometimes it’s just simply going for a hike or out on the golf course to be in community surrounded by God’s creation.
That’s what we picture when we talk about church! That’s what the early church looked like. They shared life together and had everything in common. The unfortunate thing is that community – true, authentic, Christ-centered community – is hard. And it’s messy. And it takes time. But I believe that Jesus so desires that for us.
And we believe the best way to begin living in that kind of community at MMCCaz is to dive into one of our groups. That’s why we even have Life Groups at McDowell.