Over the weekend I had the very dusty job of helping clean out our garage that really needed a makeover. I had some great helpers and we were able to get through the archives of the garage and pull out boxes that hadn't been touched in years.
One of these boxes contained love letters from my husband written many, many years ago. Since it was Valentine's weekend I read the letter and it hit me in a very powerful way that what was there was LOVE just in its beginning stages. I was in college and he was in medical school. We had exams, 100 miles apart, and only weekends to get to know each other. That included strict dorm hours in those days.
One of the good things was we had lots of time to build up a friendship and there was no email so letters were long, personal and reread for nuances. We were uncertain; we were fragile; we were under pressure but we continued.
It seems to me there are some things that would pertain to us as Christians in community.
We are instructed in 1 Peter 3:8 "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love a brethren, be pitiful, be courteous..."
How do we as a group get to this stage? We have to go through a process of getting acquainted with each other. We have to not just go out there and do a project. We have to let God work on us so that we are of one mind and have the compassion between us that reflects who we are.
"God is love and he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him." I John4:16
When we are in true Christian community we should be experiencing God's love in us and through us for the members of the group. Not that that is perfect but there should be a warmth and caring that is real.
Love is consistent or constant. We want to be there for each other in a deep way not just because we have a job to do together.
Love is persistent. We need to keep loving and caring for each other through times where a member of the community may hurt.
Love is overwhelming. Once we experience God's love in community we will just want more of that time together because we are having God's love perfected in us as we care for each other. One of the things about falling in love is that the "I" becomes "us". A group in God's type of Christian community will reflect this. Of course this oneness is not a matter of months ..it takes years. It is like a marriage that has gone on so long that one person starts a song and the other can finish the next stanza. It is like a couple so content that they can just sit reading the paper happy in each other's company.
It is impossible to share all we have learned and how much being in community has change each of us. But, above all things as you start your group...aim for this kind of oneness.