Day 19: Cultivating Community – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God’s Family

Point to Ponder: Community requires commitment.

Verse to Remember: “We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave his life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers.” — I John 3:16 (GWT)

Question to Consider: How can I help cultivate today the characteristics of real community in my small group and my church?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 19 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* including why transcendence is essential for healthy commitment.

In addition to authenticity, mutuality, sympathy, and mercy, Rick identifies five more characteristics of biblical fellowship:

* Honesty: speak the truth in love
* Humility: admit our weaknesses
* Courtesy: respect our differences
* Confidentiality: not gossip
* Frequency: make group a priority

I think one of his statements near the end sums it up the best: “Community is not built on convenience, but on the conviction that I need it for spiritual health.” In the language of my DiaBlogue, I might say:

“Biblical fellowship is based on a commitment to the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, it is not just about how or what I feel or think, nor is it even just about what is natural and comfortable for the group. Rather, it involves everything — and only those things — which help us jointly manifest the image of Christ. For only in Christ can we simultaneously achieve both individual happiness and communal well-being by enabling everyone to become more authentic — i.e., like Him.”

This means not only that I may need to confront sinful activity even if makes me and others uncomfortable, but also that I need to endure really annoying people even if they make me and others uncomfortable. These tensions are not resolvable by human-centered logic, but only by mutual recognition of the transcendent worth, reality, and relevance of God and His glory. Only at the cross can we call others to authentically submit to God, rather than merely to my or other’s convenience and whim. Only at the cross can we safely yet fully submit ourselves to a community — because ultimately it is not to that community, but to Jesus Christ.

No wonder biblical fellowship is so rare — and so precious!

Prayer: God, my spirit longs to be a part of authentic, biblical fellowship — even as my flesh rebels against the constraints and demands of such community. I thank you for my marriage, church, and home group, as well as all the fellowships I’ve enjoyed over the decades. I acknowledge that you have been at work through all of them, even if I have not always honored them with my whole heart. Yet Lord, I want more. Teach me the significance that comes from losing myself in you, that there I may find my life by letting go of it. For I know that only there can I find true relationship, forgiveness, and love. I ask all this in Jesus name, Amen.