Most evangelical churches today have some sort of small group ministry. In various ways, each congregation tries to create a sense of biblical, Christian community. Community is good, but we must be careful not to make an idol of it.
The Blessing of Community
I’ve never been more excited about our community group. The Lord has been gracious to increase our numbers, grant us joyful fellowship, and give us opportunities to grow in obedience to Him. But sometimes I catch myself talking more about community than Christ.
For every situation it seems community is the answer. If someone is struggling with sin, they’ll get accountability in the community group. If someone is looking for a spouse, we can hook them up with the perfect guy or lady in our group. If a person is ill, they’ll get prayers from members of the community. If someone has a baby, count on the community to bring over meals and onesies.
Community is a Command
All of this is true, of course. Community is one instrument God uses to invite us into a relationship with Him. Christ Himself instructs His followers to live in community with one another and the rest of Scripture echoes His words often.
- “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (Jn. 13:34).
- “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:11).
- “Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (Js. 5:16).
- “And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44).
But we must be careful not to attribute to community what only Christ can do. Community is a means to an end, not the end itself. We always face the temptation of making something good into something ultimate. If we misconstrue community as the highest good a Christian can experience then we’ve fashioned an idol.
How do you know if you’re making an idol out of community? Analyze your thoughts and feelings.
Do you rejoice more in the blessings of community than the God who makes community possible? Do you talk more to the members of your group than you do to Christ? Does your enthusiasm about your community group cover a lack of enthusiasm for Jesus? Do you care more about pleasing certain members of your group than pleasing the Lord? Do you get more excited about going to your gatherings than you do about going to God?
Christ is the Cornerstone
All of us experience a blend of motives. Even at our best, we never fully release our idols or completely embrace our Savior. But we have to recognize the tendency to pervert even God’s blessings into something that glorifies self. And struggling with all of His might, look to Jesus, the founder and finisher of our faith (Hb. 12:2). Christ is the cornerstone of community. If we lose Him, then the entire structure topples.
Community is a gift from God, but we must be careful not to make it an idol.