In my last blog, I pray that I was successful in proving that having a faith community is not naturally desired, however it’s an  essential need to our innermost being and more importantly not optional.

One of the hurdles that we must manage to have an effective community is “offense”. Versions of Luke 17:1 translate Jesus
declaring that offense is unavoidable, it will come. In the book, The Bait of Satan by Jon Bevere, he says that the word offense can be translated as a trap. In other words when you have offended someone you have laid in front of them an opportunity to walk advertently/ inadvertently into sin.  
 
Now offense carries with it a different type of weight other than sin or sin issues. Not that offense is a greater degree of sin but
scripture teaches us that offense has a much larger impact. Proverbs 18:9 “A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” When of our brother is offended gaining his trust and confidence in the
community has suffered a tremendous blow. 
  
So… there are two nuggets that I would like to leave you with, in an effort to build more efficient communities. We must slow both the propensity to offend and to be offended. You are either guilty of one or both. Let us examine ourselves. 
 
First, those who easily offend are guilty of, quite frankly, laziness. Ephesians 4:29 says,” Let no corrupting talk come out of
your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Offenders are refusing to calculate the potential consequences of their words and/or actions. When we are intentional about saying and doing things that would benefit our brothers, there will be fewer offenses committed.

Second, those often offended are just as cancerous as those who offend. Ephesians urges us to “bear with one another in love” or make allowance for one another’s faults. We are all sinful people whether by omission or commission when we fail to acknowledge that we have also failed to acknowledge the sinful behavior we are prone to. We must allow our brothers grace when they fail to meet Christ’s standards and we must prepare ourselves to meet sinful actions with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Meaning we must only respond to wrong with right, we must be committed to Christ’s way above how we feel, we must be gentle with our brothers even as we correct wrong and we must train ourselves to be able to
endure wrong without sinful response.
 
So, whether you are someone who easily offends or one who is easily offended, we must come up to the level of Christ. We must trust that the grace of God is enough to keep and bridle our words and actions. We must also trust that the grace of God will be able to protect us and keep us and we don’t need to defend ourselves. We must continue to commit ourselves to God’s idea of community and not relinquish it!
 
Oh the blood of Jesus…. It washed us! It cleansed us! It made us whole! It paid our pardon! How precious the blood of our Christ! Out of all of the wonderful things that the blood did, how often do we think about the fact that that blood birthed us into a brand new family. 

Yes, I know that you are a “Jones” or a “Robinson” but when you admitted that you were your own worst enemy and  abandoned your will for the“call of Christ”, something else happened. You joined and army of hopeless, wounded and forgotten warriors, who’ve found life’s meaning in Christ! You weren’t the first and you won’t be the last! This new family, organism and body has infinite importance and is precisely the mechanism Christ will use to announce His rule and reign on earth. Dietrich Bonheoffer says, “If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ.” 
 
Allow me to provide three truths about community that will bring greater awareness to its role in our faith walk.

First, it’s not optional! In the same way that you were born into your biological family and could not choose your siblings, you were also born into a new spiritual family. This family is not an organization, you can’t vote people in and you can’t vote people out. To choose to disassociate yourself with other members of your new family is equivalent to gauging your eyes out, as we are now one body. We can’t function without each other. 

Second, it’s a necessity! God said in Genesis, “it’s not good that man should be alone.” If you have convinced yourself that you don’t need anything else but God then you are boldly standing in opposition to the perfect decree of the father. Think about it, we can’t enjoy a new flavor of ice cream without each other. We can’t even be miserable by ourselves without calling some one to express our concerns with. Let’s face it a part of us has been wired to need other humans, more importantly other  believers.

Third, it’s not natural! “Even though community is one of the deepest needs of our heart, there’s a force field in the world that make it so hard”-- (Tim Keller). We have been socialized to more easily discern what we don’t have in common than what we do. We’ve been taught to take pride in our heritage and our gender and make sure that we don’t allow others to devalue it. We have been taught to look out for ourselves above all costs, even if that comes at the expense of others. 
 
We might not be willing
to acknowledge it right off but community is what we need and what we probably
  long for. “Christian Community” is the place that you will be comforted when
  hurting, where we’ll share in your triumphs. It’s the place where you find
  correction when you’re wrong, where you’re encouraged to grow. Without it you
  will not survive and your decision to live outside of it is a decision to live
  outside of the fellowship of our Christ. Keller also says, “Christians come
  together not by other commonalities but a common salvation to which Jesus is
  owed a common allegiance.” I beg of you brother/ sister take your place next to
  the rest of your family. We’re not perfect and neither are you but we’re much
  better together than we are apart!