The Christian community – What is it?
Many people refer to the "Christian community." What is it? Usually people use this term to refer to Christians in general or the majority of Christians.
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Biblically, however, the Christian community can be viewed from two additional perspectives. First, the Greek word for church (ekklesia) referred to an assembly or gathering of people. The early church was known for frequently gathering together in homes or in public places for friendship, prayer, learning, and worship (Acts 2:42).
Second, the Bible expresses Christian community through the word koinonia, a term usually translated as "fellowship." Acts 2 also reveals the early church's emphasis in this area. They devoted themselves to fellowship (v. 42). "And all who believed were together and had all things in common" (v. 44). Verses 46-47 add, "And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people."
This type of Christian community was the goal of the early church, yet not all Christians practice it properly. James 2:1 states, "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory." In this chapter, James explains how believers sometimes gave preference to some believers over others due to their wealth. James taught against this practice since it stood in opposition to the Great Commandment's teaching of loving your neighbor as yourself (v. 8).
A second barrier to Christian community in the early church is seen in Galatians 2. Verses 12-13 share, "For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy." Paul opposed this discrimination, stating, "Their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel" (v. 14).
Christian community is not specific to one age group (1 Timothy 4:12), ethnic group, or economic group, but consists of all true believers who compose the family of God. However, since there is no commonly accepted definition of what makes up the Christian community, some use the term in different ways that others.
For example, some use the term in reference to Christian leaders. Others may use the term in reference to Christians as a segment of voters or even a segment of people who purchase certain products. However, true Christian community can be found when believers worship and serve together in unity based on the teachings of God's Word.
What was God's purpose in establishing the church?
What does koinonia mean?
What is the universal church and how is it different from the local church?
What does it mean that the church is the body of Christ?
In the ancient creeds, what is meant by 'communion of the saints'?
Truth about Church