Hebrew 10:24, Acts 2:41-47
Talking of community, I came across an interesting term, “Ubuntu”.
“Ubuntu is a philosophy that considers the success of the group above that of the individual.” Stephen Lundin- Ubuntu!
According to Ubuntu, there exists a common bond between us all and it is through this bond, through our interaction with our fellow human beings, that we discover our own human qualities. Or as the Zulus would say, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu”, which means that a person is a person through other persons. https://motivationinspirationandlife.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/ubuntu-i-am-what-i-am-because-of-who-we-all-are/
Ubuntu simply put means “I am because we are.”
Community basically denotes a fellowship; people with something in common. The book of Genesis introduces the concept in “Let us make man” (1:26). This means God was with someone and I submit that was Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity was talking. I believe that represents community to us.
In Genesis 2:22, God created Eve and presented her to Adam. That is another mark of community. The Trinity produced a community. A family then represents a community. It is a community by itself.
Humans interact best in a community. God started with a community of two and will end with a community of believers in heaven (Rev. 7). Community is what we are called to.
What has happened to us?
We are the most connected people in the history of humanity yet the most disconnected in the history of humanity.
- So many friends on FB yet so few when we are in need
- So many connections yet we have no idea who the next door neighbor is
- So connected to others on social media and yet so apart from those we can see and touch
- So educated yet see each from tribe’s point of view and not as fellow children of God
Does the lack of community bother us? Should it bother us anyway?
41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
The disciples had received the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Apostle Peter evangelized and 3000 had come to the faith. In verse 42, Luke describes this community. They steadfastly followed the Apostles’ teaching—Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The Word was taught to the believers. They fellowshipped together. “Koinônia is the primary word that is translated as “fellowship.” Two main ideas are contained in it:
a) “to share together, take part together” in the sense of partnership or participation, and b) “to share with” in the sense of giving to others” (http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/bible.show/sVerseID/26992/eVerseID/26992). They were all connected to one Lord. There has to something that brings people together. Christ is the glue for the fellowship.
They broke bread together (could mean either Lord’s table or a common meal) and spent time in prayer. Praying was an essential mark of the community and remains so today. Verse 43 describes that many signs and wonders were performed by the disciples as described in Mark 16:17-18. It is noteworthy that this happened in the context of a community. It was not isolated. Verse 45 describes a community that not only lived together but shared everything-sacrificially.
This sharing is noted also in Acts 4:32-35, “32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
Acts 2:47 describes the result of the beautiful community:
- Praise to God
- Favor with the people
- Growth of the church – the community life was so attractive that it drew people to the kingdom. This fulfills John 13:34-35 which says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We can learn some points on community life: We are called to:
- Live for one another – The New Testaments has 59 “one anothers.” Passages that demonstrate that as believers our lives should outward oriented. This is anti the philosophy of the world that calls us to individualized selfish lives. The call is to live together in unity. We are more like the Trinity when we live together in unity. This unity will “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5-6).
- To live for one another, we must love one another. We went about Christ when we love one another. There is so much hatred in the world and as believers we must change the narrative. We must learn to love without expecting anything. Love is conditional these days. We have forgotten the golden rule “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
- Loving one another will bring us to a place of serving and giving to others. It is difficult to love without giving and serving. To ALL IN means our time, talents, and resources are in. Communities are solidified by serving and giving. Give and serve your family. Give and serve your church. You can’t say you love and yet do nothing. By loving, you acknowledge that what you have been given is for others. (Love even those who support parties you don’t like and candidates you hate to hear their names. We are united in the LORD no matter our differences).
- The result will be an authentic community. People want authenticity. They are tired of fake relationships and want to connect at soul level. They are tired of talk. That is the hope of the church. The young people want authenticity. Time for show is over. Authenticity will draw young people to the faith. They want to see real marriages, real Christians, and real leaders. Fakeness and hypocrisy keeps them away.
The Early Church gives a prototype of how we should live as believers. The biggest difference was that the Holy Spirit was in them. Before they were busy fighting on who would be the greatest but now were all mellowed in love and concern for each other. We have the Lord with us. We are ALL IN because He empowers us. We can commit to community because that is where life is. Commit to family. Commit to the Body of Christ.
I am Because we Are (Zulu – “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu”, which means that a person is a person through other persons)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole.” https://motivationinspirationandlife.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/ubuntu-i-am-what-i-am-because-of-who-we-all-are/
This is best captured in Psalm 133, “1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
It is good and pleasing when we are united. He connects this to anointing oil on Aaron’s beard and the refreshing dew. There, the LORD commands a blessing. Unity brings God’s blessings when families are together, neighbors are together, colleges are together, church is together, and nation is together. There is power in unity.
We are more like the TRINITY when we are united. We are more KINGDOM MINDED when we are united. We are more GODLY when we are united.
The blessings are peace, synergy, and higher productivity. Everyone roots for each other. The marriage stands. The church achieves her mission. The nation gets stronger.