Life together in community is a defining attribute of the Christian life, or at least it should be. For many Americans, life together in community is more of a theory than a reality. Many desire community but find it hard to do so with the other demands of life.
So how can someone break through the barrier to community? One word: Awe.
The key is not only to rearrange your schedule, though that must happen. It is not to change your priorities, though that too is necessary. The key is to open your heart to God and to others so that you are able to become awed by the One who has called us together in the first place.
Let’s be honest, life together is hard. We are sinners always bumping into other sinners. Why would we want to put ourselves on that track again when we can hear the train coming around the bend? But what if that train doesn’t intend to run you over, but to pick you up and take you with it to the place of blessing: into green pastures and beside still waters?
Acts 2:42 says that the early church, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Life together in community was a defining attribute of the early church.
And the result? Acts 2:43, “And awe came upon every soul.”
When you finally relinquish yourself over to the King of the universe you find not a life of dull servitude, but a life of joyful praise to the One who has saved you from all your sin, who has washed you clean by his blood. He fits you for community by forgiving you of your iniquity and sin. There, in the midst of other believers, you are lifted out of self-consumption and presented with a crystal clear image and diamond hard bedrock of the kind of life Jesus creates. And awe comes down from heaven.
The awe you long for can be found, and it can be found in the midst of community. There you will see that Jesus has done for others what he has done for you, and that will lead you to awe. You will find a place where you belong, and that will lead you to awe. As someone says something that resonates with your heart, you will find yourself saying, as C.S. Lewis said of friendship, “You too? I thought I was the only one.”
Many people today live as if Christianity is just one part of their life, and that leads to an awe-less life. Not because God isn’t really there – he is – but because they haven’t opened their lives up to him or to others. The place of blessing is always in the midst of God with the people of God. It is there where he himself resides with power.
Let us devote ourselves to the teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And as we do let’s lift our eyes to the One we worship and wait expectantly for awe to come down to our hardened hearts.
We know where that kind of life leads, because the Bible tells us that as well. Acts 2:47, “And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” The Christian in awe of God is used by God for the salvation of others, which leads to increased awe of God.
So let’s pursue God together and wait for awe to come upon us who believe as well as those who don’t yet believe. Let’s do it together, in community, for the glory of God.