In Ontario, it was announced this week that the mask mandate, put in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, is being lifted as of March 21 in most settings. This means that many people are thinking about resuming “normal” activities – things they did before the pandemic hit.
A lot of those activities will involve other people: being involved in community.
For those who walk with Jesus in faith, community is a significant part of our journey. We engage in Christian fellowship through corporate worship; through participation in small groups for study, prayer and service; and through more casual means such as getting together for coffee with a friend or having people over for dinner.
It will be nice to be able to resume these activities as we did before.
But did you know that community is also a spiritual discipline?
Very, very few Christians are called to be hermits. They have existed over time, but they have been the exception to the rule. In general, followers of Jesus are called to function in community. This is true regardless of one’s state in life: married or single, children or none; no matter our race or job or ability, we are called to function in community.
For some, this has meant living in intentional community, where believers live together under one roof, or in a commune-like setting, essentially becoming a church. For many, though, functioning in community has meant living with one’s family, or alone, and engaging in community through the local church.
The word church, after all, literally means “those called out” – people called by God to faith in Christ, called to separate themselves for his Kingdom, called to do together what is either difficult or impossible to do alone.
It saddens me that these two years of restraint have, in a sense, cauterized some people: they have lost their sense of the value of community. Church has become something they tune into on their computers, not people with whom they can ‘do life’ together. They forget that the church is not the building, but the people.
If you follow Jesus, you are the church. If you’ve been waiting for the “all clear” to be sounded, it looks like that signal is coming later this month. See it as a call from God to be the church, to worship, study and serve with others who likewise are looking to Jesus as the Author and Finisher of their faith (Hebrews 12.1).
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other” (Romans 12.5, NLT).