I love the fact that God created us to live in community and created a community for us called the Church. As challenging as it can be at times to live in community, God established His Church, the Body of Christ, as a “community” of believers that we might reflect the character of Christ. It is in this context of learning to live in community that we grow into the likeness of Jesus. We disagree and sometimes we wound one another, but God heals the wounds, gives us grace to forgive and teaches us how to work through disagreements. We make huge blunders, commit sin, and experience failures all in the sight of this community, yet it is here that we experience the grace of God through the community.
Peter experienced incredible community in the company of Jesus and the other eleven disciples. He was rebuked by Jesus. He was ashamed of his own cowardice and denial of Jesus. He was impetuous and frequently put his foot in his mouth. Yet Jesus never stopped loving him and fully restored him in the company of the disciples. It was in this crucible of community that Peter was prepared to give leadership to the disciple-making movement recorded in Acts.
Community is not just a New Testament or modern day concept. There are numerous references to “the assembly” in the Old Testament. The “assembly” was the gathering of the children of Israel. Sometimes those gatherings were preparations for battle and other times they were times of worship. David wrote in Psalm 35, “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.” In Psalm 40, He wrote: I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness in the great assembly.
The “assembly” or the “community” is the place and time when the people of God gather to proclaim good news, to praise God for who He is and for His wondrous works, and even to prepare for battle – not the kind with swords and shields, but the spiritual battles in which we face the fiery darts of the wicked one.
SHIFT is the community of the Missionary Church coming together to seek the face of the Lord, to hear His word proclaimed, and to praise Him. It is a time when we may wrangle a bit over how we articulate our community values, but in doing so, we will be strengthened and the community will continue to grow.
When the “assembly” met in the Old Testament, they expected to hear a word from the Lord. They gathered for a purpose. I sense that those who gathered on the Day of Pentecost came with a sense of expectancy. As we meet in Fort Wayne as “the assembly” of the Missionary church, come with a sense of expectancy. What does God want to say to us as a community?