It’s time to hear from the lovely Sarah Rose about community! Sarah was a vital part of my community in SoCal. I spent too much time being threatened by her awesomeness in the beginning, but we eventually bonded over perfectionism, books, and coffee dates. She has one of the biggest hearts for ministry and I’m happy to have her thoughts on Primitive Roads today!
Scott Peck defines community as “a group of individuals who have learned to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together,’ and to ‘delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own’.”
For Christians, we have a wealth of instruction in the Bible about what our community is supposed to look like. That doesn’t mean we always know how to live it out, though. In our society we cherish our right to retreat from others and often find ourselves emotionally isolated and detached.
What we truly need is the connection that the Bible calls “koinonia” (κοινωνία) – a deep intimacy that comes from experiencing life and pain and joy together. We translate this word as “fellowship” in church, though the image brought to mind with that word is often incidents of making awkward small talk over coffee and donuts. Instead, the more literal translation of koinonia denotes intimacy and contact, with concepts interwoven that related more closely to marriage than to shallow friendships.
When we commit to truly living out the koinonia kinds of relationships that the Bible calls us to with one another, we take on the instructions found in over 50 significant verses within the New Testament alone. (you can click here for a more complete list). We are instructed to love, care for, serve, and submit to one another. Within that list is also the teaching to show tolerance, not to lie, live in peace, to confess, and to forgive one another.
We live in a society that cares little about true forgiveness. Instead, we see it as means to make ourselves feel better; letting go of toxic bitterness that clouds personal judgment and impedes healthy interpersonal relationships so that we can be “mentally healthy”. Even within the Christian community, we often ignore the clear commandments to reconcile to one another within community and only concern ourselves with being “right with God”.
We have to start taking notice of the daily trials and annoyances that we find ourselves so easily holding on to, especially when it comes to those we spend the most time in close proximity with. Because our natural human reaction to hurt is self-focused and defensive, these feelings grow into bitterness and arrogance based on the hurt one felt was suffered unjustly and the vengeance one feels is deserved when not confronted and attended to.
For me, these are the times where the radical call to live peaceably with everyone, so far as it depends on me (Romans 12:18) is the most difficult to practice. These would be the situations when a friend doesn’t show up for a coffee date, a piece of information shared in confidence is repeated in mixed company, or a joke is made at the expense of another person. We face these situations daily where the practices of humility, long-suffering and practical forgiveness are trained, refined and perfected if we would only be obedient.
Submitting humbly to one another means practicing the forgiveness and grace that we are so abundantly awarded from our Heavenly Father, and pursuing the challenge of being truth-tellers to create true koinonia fellowship among the church family.
Sarah Lochelt is a 24-year-old California resident with a deep passion for true community. She enjoys seeing God work in the lives of high school and college students, she spends way too much time reading in coffee shops, and she is learning one day at a time how beautiful it is to let God be in control.
She received her Bachelor’s in Youth Ministry from Azusa Pacific University, where she currently works in the Office for Discipleship Ministries, and is also pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling Ministry from California Baptist University.