A number of people have made the comment that community and mission are both facets of the same gem. Both are an integral part of the heart of the Godhead.
Tony P. made some excellent comments on the mission/community question: they are definitely worth repeating in the main part of the blog so more people get to appreciate them. He says:
"I think the statement that John White made: “a family is a community but a community is not necessarily a family.” is very relevant. This distinction is at the heart of what should set the church apart from every other community. The fact that, what we have in common, is being part of a family where the blood we share is holy, eternal, and belonging to God himself is a fact that should distinguish Christian community from every other cult, club, and community the world has to offer.
This is a fact we are called together by God to realize, not a fact that we by human endeavor cause to happen. By engaging in evangelism or helping the poor we do not add to the finished work that Jesus has done. We are part of God’s family by God’s grace. This seems to go against the grain of contemporary church thought which teaches a more man centered experience where you make family happen by doing the right things. Where if you don’t like the educational background, skin color, or financial situation of a brother or sister you are encouraged to go find a community of believers that better suits you.
I think what is shown in the bible is something quite different. It is a family fathered by God and we don’t choose it any more than we chose our natural families. What I’ve often experienced are believers that treat God’s family as if it is a family less real than their natural families. Or a community less important than the ones they have chosen and built themselves.
But I think it is much more difficult to focus on Jesus and our relationship to him and not become passionate about what he is passionate about. I’ve seen it echoed throughout several post that mission and community are facets of the same gem. I’d say that gem is the body of Christ of which he is the head. And I’d say it is a gem of which he is also the author and perfecter."
Adding to Tony's remarks, I would still say that mission is an attitude of heart that mirrors the purpose for which Jesus came to earth. It results from an expectancy that God is longing to use us (corporately as well as individually) as ambassadors for the Kingdom.
I challenge any of us to make a list of the unbelievers we know and to start praying regularly for them. See what God will do!
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