Intentional community in Jesus surely must be a good thing. In our churches, and if you have been a part of a Christian ministry, we all find ourselves slapped together so to speak. Community is present, but often weak. In Sharon Garlough Brown’s excellent award winning book, Sensible Shoes, community is front and center, and quite intentional. I am reminded not only of the great tradition of the church in practicing spiritual disciplines together, but I’m also reminded of Acts 2 as well as 1 Corinthians 14. Where community is strong in Jesus, it seems that the Spirit is all the more present in life transforming activity, which doesn’t stay only in the borders among insiders, but works its way out.
It seems that the Spirit is especially present in community, a life transforming presence. Which though active in the Body of Christ, is not confined to it. We read that the community in the early church in Acts, in the church’s infancy, had all things in common, met together regularly, great grace on them all, and that the Lord was adding daily to the church, those who were being saved. In 1 Corinthians 14 we read that if one prophecies in the church, rather than speaking in tongues- unless an interpreter is present, than those who are not believers in their midst, might fall down having been moved personally and deeply by the words spoken, acknowledging that God is present among them. And Jesus said that all people would know that those in him are his disciples, if they love each other. He prayed to the Father the eve of his crucifixion that they would all be one, just as he and the Father are one, that they would be brought to perfect unity, in order that the world might know that the Father had sent him.
We need intentional community. With all the blessing comes difficulty. Anyone can see that in any close relationship, beginning at home with one’s spouse, or if no spouse, with a close friend. And friends. Scripture tells us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. It is not easy. But this is part of what we’re to be about. And in that we grow up, in the Body, to maturity in Christ, and in his image. In love together. And in mission for the world.