‘Then those who gladly received his word were baptised; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:41, 42).’
The title might suggest this article could be about a spurious sect whose aim is to live together under the guise of a community who are motivated by the teachings of Jesus, and yet their living together is nothing more than a charade that hides their lustful desires, which include the sharing of one another (Romans 1:24-28). The leader of the group is a charismatic individual who outwardly portrays himself as a loving and caring person, and who desires all under his leadership (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14) to experience peace and security. He kids them that living in ‘their’ community is the next best thing to heaven – their paradise on earth!
No, my subject is centred on Jesus, who along with His Father and the Holy Spirit purposed to create a community of living beings (cf. Genesis 1:26) with whom they could share their glory (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 9:23, 24) and eternal life. This was their plan from before the creation of the universe (Ephesians 1:4, 5). The Triune God lacked nothing; for the Persons of the Godhead were intrinsically perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30), and together in the realm of eternity, they existed as One (Galatians 3:20).
And yet, as One God in Three Persons, intrinsically within Him, there was the perfect community (Genesis 3:22), but He wanted to share His glory and eternal life with a people He would create. He wanted them to love Him and to love one another as He would love them (John 13:34). He would create them in His own image; male and female He would create them (Genesis 1:27), to procreate and multiply upon the earth, with the ultimate purpose of creating the holy community of love He desired.
God’s Special Community
We know from God’s word, that He is a God of order (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:33). After creating the earth in an orderly fashion, over a period of six days, He created Adam (Genesis 2:7) and Eve (vv. 21, 22) who would bring forth children to become the first earthly community; a family, from whom other children would come to establish more families. In the course of time they would combine to become larger communities, tribes and nations (Genesis 11).
From these tribes and nations God had it in mind to choose one nation as ‘special’ to Him: the tribe of Israel (Deuteronomy 7:6, 7). He would uniquely be their God with whom He would have a holy (Ephesians 1:4) and separate relationship. He would dwell among them, and they would be partakers of His love, and they would love one another as He loved them. They would experience the greatness of His glory, and be ever grateful for His mercy and forgiveness (Exodus 34:6, 7).
To bring this holy and loving community into being, the Father would send His Son to establish it (Matthew 16:18). He would dwell in their midst and He would be their God (Matthew 1:23). From them He would choose a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5) who would live in His ultimate, perfect community with Him forever. The means of entry into this forever community, would be their God-given faith in His Son (Ephesian 2:8), and they would be justified by their faith (Romans 5:1).
To show the extent of His love (John 3:16), God determined to let His Son suffer and die in the place of those He would save from hell, i.e., the abode of everlasting torment (Mark 9:44-48) that He made (John 1:3) for all those who would refuse to accept His offer of forgiveness for their rebellion and sin against Him (Deuteronomy 7:9-11).
The Son, who was in the Father (John 14:10, 11), would demonstrate His power to forgive sins by the authority that was evident in His works of healing the sick, casting out demons and raising the dead. The final proof and endorsement of the Son’s authority would be the Father’s resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Galatians 1:1).
From the Son’s teaching, while He was on earth, those who would believe in Him would know that they too, would be raised to life and live as God’s sons (Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) in His new community, in the new earth forever (Revelation 21:1).
The Present Time
‘Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need (Acts 2:44, 45).’
Meanwhile, here on earth at this present time, God’s people who live in the community of His body, His church (Colossians 1:18), the spiritual [new] Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), are tasked with sharing their knowledge of Christ’s salvation. They are to be a light to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47). By their example of living in communion with Christ, with Him at the centre of all they think and do, they are to be His ambassadors for the making of disciples of Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20).
Christian families, single men and women, boys and girls, all believers of Christ, through the power and leading of the Holy Spirit, join together in local communities. They are the ekklesias of God (2 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:5), members of the Way (Acts 9:2; 19:23), the people of Jesus, the Jesus community (1 Thessalonians 2:14). Christ lives in them (John 17:22, 23) by His Spirit. The Spirit enables them to share with one another (Acts 4:32-35), while being dependent upon the Father’s grace (v 33), and His provision of all their needs (v 34).
They live together with the sure *hope of inheriting eternal life at the resurrection, when Jesus will come with His angels for them (Matthew 25:31). Only then will they live in perfect harmony and love, together as God’s very special and glorious community (2 Corinthians 3:11, 12).
‘Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God (Revelation 21:2, 3).’
‘Elusive Community: Why Do We Avoid What We Were Created For?’ by Jon Zens
Jon is an advocate of small church communities similar to the early NT church – face to face, local communities committed to Christ, with Him central to all they do. [Face to face is not possible in this exceptional time of lockdown, on account of the Coronavirus.]
There are various organisations and individuals who may have an Internet presence, and who refer to themselves as being ‘Jesus People’ or a ‘Jesus Community’; therefore I would like to make it clear that the opening paragraph of this article, “The Jesus Community”, only refers to people as described in that paragraph. Such people may call themselves followers of Jesus, but clearly they are not, on account of their lack of obedience to God’s word. I have not pointed my finger to any specific person or group, but if people are convicted of their sin, in the name of the Lord, I call upon them to repent and believe (Mark 1:15).