I don’t know if you’ve ever come across this saying;
‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’
I quite often find it pops up on my facebook or twitter feed as an inspirational quote and I really quite like it. I also think it’s really useful when we’re thinking about our lives as Christians living in community with other people.
It might just be me, but I know I quite often find myself wanting to get things done fast- ‘I just need to finish this’ or, ‘I can get that organised really quickly if I just get down to work and do it.’ But actually, how many times do I stop and think ‘what would happen if we did this together?’ Not just for my sake, not just for the sake of other people out there who realise it would be good to go ‘far’ (as in doing lasting ‘stuff’, things that will really make a difference), but most importantly for the sake of Jesus and making him known ‘far’.
And this isn’t just a nice quote, actually the Bible talks about living in community too… there’s loads on working together; about the church being like a body, made up of many parts (1 Cor. 12.12-31); about striving together as one for the sake of the gospel (Phil. 1.27). And in the book of Acts we see an example of real community displayed within the early church.
‘All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.’
This passage says ‘all the believers were one in heart and mind’. Wait a sec… that’s a massive statement. That’s not ‘they agreed on most things but occasionally had an argument over the colour of the church hall, or the type of coffee served after church’. This was a deep unity in their aims and values, but this also overflowed into their actions; ‘they shared everything they had’. And then, sandwiched in the middle of this all is that little bit about the apostles testifying to the ‘resurrection of the Lord Jesus’. Here we see what it is that forms this community… as people hear and believe this message, that’s when this life really begins to be lived out. This deep unity and deep generosity, founded by Jesus.
So now, whilst we’re caught up in the busyness of getting stuff done, and getting it done fast let’s take a break… let’s look back to Jesus, see what He has done and live our lives in response to that. Let’s come back to this:
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
(1 John 4.10-12)