by Christina Roberts
Community. It’s something that is very necessary for the thriving of the church. While I am currently living overseas in an intensely tight-knit community of just a few people, I still at times find myself community starved. Our team is so awesome, but even with an amazing group of people, I do miss having a larger community to spend time with.
During our time in Ethiopia, Keisha, Laura and I began to do a Bible Study on the topic of biblical community. The study looked at many different aspects of community: how as Christians we should live in a community as brothers and sisters, and how we should show love and grace where we have differing beliefs since we are unified in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Shortly after we began this study, the Lord blessed us greatly with a wonderful community of believers. A community of believers that caused me to see in practice many of the biblical teachings examined in the Bible study.
It wasn’t a big group. There were less than fifteen of us. If you sat back and looked at who was a part of the community, it was a misfit group of people. We didn’t fit together. I think we all realized that wherever home was for each of us, none of us would have gravitated together.
Our group was a large range of ages, from three to seventy, and a variety of different backgrounds. There were people from a host of different denominations. Some had followed Jesus from a young age and been in church their entire life, while others had been alcoholics or drug addicts radically saved, and some were even from different parts of the world. A group as diverse as this could make one extremely nervous. If someone were to say the wrong thing, a major disagreement could very easily come up.
However, despite our differences, we all had one thing in common. We all loved Jesus. We all believed His gospel. We had each heard His call to us and had followed Him.
It’s awesome how quickly we all became a community. It was very beautiful.
Every week we would meet together for worship and fellowship, rotating compounds (homes) for who would host. Each week our time together looked different, and because of our diverse backgrounds, there was no particular procedure or schedule of events from week to week. There was an immense respect and love towards each other in the midst of the diversity. During the week, if someone was sick, having cultural issues, in need of prayer or just to talk, we all knew help was just a phone call (or fifteen minute walk) away.
When the time came for us to leave, despite the short time I knew all these wonderful people, I was so sad to go. It was such a beautiful picture of a church full of diversity, a church with different cultures, but the same Christ. It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, knit together by our love for Jesus and His gospel.