Week 22 — The Church and the Christian Community
"If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy." —1 Corinthians 12:26
"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I do not need you,' any more than the head can say to the feet, 'I do not need you.' " —1 Cor 12:21
Jesus: You are the parts of My body. You are now My hands, feet, mind, and voice on earth. I need you, and you need one another. You need even your enemies.
Part: Jesus, I was brought up to be independent, not inter-dependent. I try to do my own thing and not have to worry about others. I'd have to change my whole life to live in Christian community. You don't expect me to do that, do You?
Be a Christian rather than a product of American culture.
"Those who believed shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, dividing everything on the basis of each one's need. They went to the temple area together every day, while in their homes they broke bread. With exultant and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." —Acts 2:44-47
Jesus: You need Christian community at least as much as you need the parts of your body. If your finger were severed from your body, would it be an emergency? If you're not in a prayerful, loving, and caring body of Christians, that's an even greater emergency.
Part: Jesus, I have friends; isn't that Christian community?
Be a brother or sister not only in name but in deed.
"The community of believers were of one heart and one mind. None of them ever claimed anything as his own; rather, everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." —Acts 4:32-33
Jesus: I'm not telling you to try different church communities until you find the one that's perfect. You would have to go to heaven to do that. I'm telling you to change your heart and form community where you are.
Part: Jesus, You don't understand the people in this church. They'll stab you in the back. It would be spiritual suicide to open up to these people.
Jesus: Talk to My mother and your mother about this.
Be willing to suffer.
"This is how all will know you for My disciples: your love for one another." —Jn 13:35
Jesus: "I do not want what you have, I only want you" (2 Cor 12:14). I want you to lay down your life for your brothers and sisters (1 Jn 3:16). That's true love and community.
Part: Jesus, how can I love others as You love me? (Jn 13:34)
Jesus: I live in you.
Be your brother's keeper (Gn 4:9).
"I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; I pray that they may be (one) in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." —Jn 17:20-21
Jesus: Remember when I taught you to pray "Our Father" (Mt 6:9). If all of you have the same Father, that makes you brothers and sisters. And I don't mean "brothers and sisters" in a superficial way. I mean Trinity-unity. I pray your unity be as Mine and the Father's.
Part: Jesus, this scares me. I feel like a turtle, and all I want is to put my head back in the shell.
Jesus: "Fear is useless; what is needed is trust" (Lk 8:50).
Be delivered from chains of fear.
"I give thanks to my God every time I think of you—which is constantly, in every prayer I utter." —Phil 1:3-4
Jesus: "Greet one another with a holy kiss" (1 Cor 16:20). Be affectionate, pure, and "anticipate each other in showing respect" (Rm 12:10). Don't be afraid. Response: Be pure as Jesus is pure (1 Jn 3:3).
Jesus: Let me deliver you from unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment.
Be pure as Jesus is pure (1 Jn 3:3).
"Behold, how good it is, and how pleasant, where brethren dwell at one!" —Ps 133:1
Jesus: To see you united does My heart good. It fills Me with joy. It makes it clear that My death was not in vain. I love to see blacks and whites as one. I love to see Protestants and Catholics pray together.
Part: Jesus, send me the Holy Spirit of unity and community. Give me a new Pentecost so I will want to live in Christian community.
Be one as the Father, Son, and Spirit are one.
Excerpts from Scripture are taken from The New American Bible, copyright 1970 by the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C., and are used by permission of the copyright holder. All rights reserved.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert J. Buschmiller, July 13, 1995.
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati, July 25, 1995.
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