A Community on Mission
Confluence December 4, 2017
“And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 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. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:45-47, ESV
Throughout the New Testament, we see the early church was strikingly and intensely communal. When God saves us by His grace, He does not add us to an institution or to our favorite preacher. He adds us to a people. All God has called us to be and all He has called us to do works itself out within this community.
Now it’s important to understand why we are a community. We are a community built because of God’s mission. We were saved because God reached out to us. We are a community for God’s mission. Our purpose is to bring others to God. Theologian Emil Brunner observed, “The Church exists by mission, just as a fire exists by burning. Where there is no mission there is no church.” So we are not on mission to be a community – community is not an end in itself. Rather, we are a community on mission.
Mission creates community
Some of the deepest and greatest friendships exist among war veterans and pro-athletes. Why is that? Is it because they set out to be great friends? No, it all started with a common mission. They had a battle to fight or a championship to win. Some of my best friends are guys I have very little in common with, except that we are on mission together. We see this with Jesus and His disciples. Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach my gospel. Be my witnesses. Be on mission for my renown.” They engaged in this mission and were fruitful in this mission, and it built in them a kind of togetherness that is foreign to many of us today. Despite working twelve-hour days, they made time to be together in each other’s homes on a daily basis. They felt so close to each other that it didn’t make sense anymore to distinguish this bank account, this property, or this possession as mine and not ours.
We also see, despite the intense closeness they shared, this community was not closed to outsiders. The author of Acts writes that they were experiencing daily additions: that’s a minimum of 365 people per year. In their love of one another and desire to be together, they obviously kept the relational doors wide open to new people. And why wouldn’t they? If the goal is God’s mission – to share the good news of what Jesus has done – then the more people to share the news the better.
We all want deeper community, but we mistakenly think if we try to build community, we’ll get community. Instead, let’s be a people about God’s mission! As we live for the mission, we’ll begin to see community form in a new, richer way than we would if we just settled for community alone.