There’s this great line in 1 Peter where Peter is reminding Christians that they are a part of something larger than themselves.
They belong to the Christian community.
He writes these words to them, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
Chosen, royal, holy. God’s special possession. These are great descriptors of the community of people God has called together around the life of Jesus and given an identity in him.
I actually like the way the old King James describes it though. In that translation, we’re told that this community God has called together is “a peculiar people.”
I suppose that is probably true in more ways than one! However, what I think it means is that God has formed together this community around Jesus that is meant to stand out in some very good ways in a world that is hungry and searching for authentic expressions of community. In a world with so many expressions of broken community, the church is called to be peculiar…different… a community centered around the redemptive love of God in Christ where people know and are known, love and are loved, serve and are served, celebrate and are celebrated.
Over and again in the New Testament we are shown stories and examples of the early Christian community learning to treat one another as God, in Christ, had treated them. And that focus made all the difference in the world. It established a unique, peculiar kind of community that became a magnet to folks seeking an expression of authentic community. It was good & beautiful. And God was adding people to it all the time!
Now, I am the first to confess we don’t always get that right. Sometimes our community, at times, can seem just as broken as any other. But, over a lifetime of belonging to a local church, I still really believe in the good and beautiful community that God has called together. I believe in the gathering of the saints. I believe in the holiness of God’s church. I believe we (and the whole world) needs a community of people committed to loving and treating each other the way God in Christ treated us (even if we don’t always get it right).
A couple of months ago we began talking at Real Life Community about our “Next 10” vision plan. In that series, I noted that our focus for the first year of this plan is to do some internal work as a church to strengthen the community, build out ministry areas, develop the “root system” to be able to support the image of the Ezekiel 17 tree. This Sunday we’re launching into a message series designed to kick that emphasis off.
I am so excited for this year at Real Life Community. It’s going to be a great one as we learn to practice being members of that good & beautiful (and maybe a little peculiar) community.