On 20/20, 'The Sixth Sense', last night, they showed a story that spoke to me about Christian community. It was about a family (James and Kati Kim and their two little children) that made a wrong turn and ended up lost for 9-15 days in a snowy wilderness. (Here is a link to a brief: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/kim-family-disappears-12898944.) Ron McKenzie is an economist living in Christchurch, NZ. His blog: http://www.getrad2.blogspot.com/. His website: http://kingwatch.co.nz/. He has a lot of valuable teaching on the Church, prophecy and the NZ earthquakes, economics as Christians should, practical Christian living, the prophetic, etc.
I put some of the things McKenzie said about what Christian community looks like together with the story of the Kims last night on 20/20. The Kims' story brought Christian community home in a most practical way.
The Kims got stuck in a wilderness, and no one knew where they were. However, their friends and family began to network to find them. Eventually, when it was too late for James Kim, the Kims were found. As I watched this, I learned (gained understanding) about Christian community. I wouldn't be surprised if 99.9% of people who attempt to 'set up' Christian community flop. Some say community has to 'wait on the Holy Spirit' as in the Book of Acts while others say it has to be done now or never. This confusion over spiritual and natural things doesn't need to exist. Those who 'wait on God' tend to wait on others (namely 'leaders') to be led of Him; this often leaves God waiting on us. The Kims' story on 20/20 was, to me, an excellent map or outline for the practical side of Christian community.
We've all heard of neighborhood watches. Christian community isn't primarily to be in the same geographical location as it is to be in spirit. It is about accountability more than it's about geography. When we hold each other in our hearts, due to relationship, we more easily hear the Spirit when He tells us to bless this person in this way or when He alerts us to pray for that person. We more easily know when someone is in trouble and where a missing person is, if ever a person went missing, because of inter-connectedness by the Holy Spirit. This is how relationship is when it is spirit to spirit. (Probably every mom knows what this is like with their children, especially when they were little.) The Kims fell into misfortune and remained there for a long time because they hadn't let their friends know exactly what they were doing (they were the spontaneous type), therefore, no one knew where they were. The practical side of Christian community (if the Spirit doesn't first fall out the sky and originate from thin air 'leaders' who will tell us how to do community) begins with family to family relationships. These relationships extend out to the families of our children's friends (if they are Christians), etc. Each family not only keeps an eye on their own family and children but also on those of the other families. (Accountability first; geography second.) This builds relationship, because community without relationship first can only be successfully done by the Holy Spirit (who then immediately works on relationship). And seeing that we are all waiting for Him to create apostles from thin air to tell us how to have community, we can atleast work towards this very practical aspect.
Community isn't about just entrusting ourselves and families to any Christian or family. But as we take small steps, the Spirit adds discernment, allowing us to know who and what family is true (purely motivated, trustworthy) and who is false and not trustworthy. As we move forward, the Spirit will open to us treasures that couldn't be had when we were isolated from one another. Things we thought impossible or hard will become easy. Discernment, wisdom, and provision will multiply (just because of our obedience), and those who think they are unable to meet God's standards or walk as He wants them to will begin to find that Jesus' standard really is easy, and His expectation is light (Mt. 11:30).
The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Unity. "Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am in the midst" (Mt. 18). We can try to build community by rules of how it should be according to the Book of Acts; or we can build it how God builds all things: through relationship. James Kim ended up dead as he tried to save his family; and though the whole town (and the military, thanks to James' dad's status) agreed together to find him and his family, James remained dead. However, in Christian community, if it ever even got to the point of being lost so many days, a person/family that is accountable before other Christian families would probably be found before any deaths. But if there was in fact a death, then Jesus could exercise His authority over Death by raising that one from the dead. He could do this easily, because Christians were accountable (in agreement) with each other. In this simple type of community, God gains authority/permission, through togetherness/agreement, to accomplish things that cannot be accomplished outside of unity (Ps 133). Out of community, as we see in the Book of Acts, miracles and provision and protection and such things will flow (even naturally), and it won't be only Love drawing a watching world; but if we think the Holy Spirit has to make an appearance before Christian community can be built together, then we lack the understanding that just as a natural building is built together by the agreement of different materials (because building materials aren't used that disagree with each other), so Christian community is built by living relationships between Christians and Christian families. God has made us spirit bodies housed in flesh bodies, therefore, spiritual things are often housed in practical (natural) things.