in an Imperfect Christian Community
now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you,
so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone
will know that you are my disciples.
A Perfect Christian
We all have different ideas of what a dream house,
an ideal car, or the best job looks like. But how would you depict a perfect
Christian community? My description would include:
Would I like to live in such a perfect community?
Most probably, but I do not think I am qualified to do so. I will bring
that community in disrepute because of my unfaithfulness, faults and sins.
The reality is - no such community exists – at least here on earth. We
are all sinners, and being part of a Christian community does not make
us automatically a saint. We are all in the process of being redeemed and
growing in Christian maturity. That is why our community is not perfect
– because all of us are not perfect. That transformation to Christ-likeness
will only end after we breathe our last breath here on earth.
All community members are faithful to daily prayer
All community members have heard all our courses
and are applying them in their lives. All of them are growing in Christian
All the leaders have been adequately trained and
have the vision, skill, time and energy to follow God’s call; and all the
members understand and support their leaders.
There is perfect unity within the community – among
the leaders, members, and the youth. There are no cliques or factions within
All relationships are doing well – there are no relationship
difficulties, strains, grudges or misunderstandings. People patch up broken
There is no slander and gossip – every word that
is heard is healthy, up-building and encouraging.
All members are involved in some form of service
and are building up the community and wider church in one way or another.
The community is doing well financially, with all
members being very generous with their giving.
The community youth are catching the vision of the
community, and are well on the way to becoming full adult members in the
future. All the community youth are choosing to follow God and a
vast majority of them stay in community. Their most significant relationships
are in the community.
Community youth work is flourishing, with abundant
resources available in all fronts.
Everyone is trying to evangelise in the school, university,
neighbourhood and at the workplace. There is a good response to evangelism
work. Because of this, the community membership is flourishing.
All the members’ needs are taken care of.
All members of the community live out their call
faithfully to the end.
A School of Love
One thing that I learned when I was young in
community is that it is like a school of love. In school, we sign up to
learn things. God the Father is the principal of the school you are enrolled
in. We have the one and same teacher – Jesus Christ. He is the one teaching
us news skills - how to love, serve, relate and forgive one another. We
also have the same tutor or coach – the Holy Spirit – to give us power
to change and be transformed. We have one book all the time we are learning
– the Scripture, the Word of God. The Bible is our textbook, our guide,
and our map in daily living.
of our School of Love include:
Embracing an Imperfect
We enrolled in the school so we can learn Kingdom
values, relationships and character; we are here primarily to learn to
love and serve one another. We are here to learn to be Christ-like in all
things. And we are here also to unlearn the old ways of living and relating
to one another before we enrolled in the school.
We have schoolmates in the community who might have
enrolled earlier or later than us – they are ones we primarily apply what
we learn from the school.
Our schoolmates are as imperfect as we are. We sin
against each other and we hurt one another. We need to learn to forgive
them and ask forgiveness from them as the need arises. In spite of their
imperfections, we are called to love and serve them to the end – and that
means we will bury one another and take care of each other’s families as
we get older and die. Our relationships are eternal and are thicker than
blood because we are all bought by the same price – the blood of our Lord
We do not earn any degree after some time – our learning
in the school of love is meant to be a lifetime enrolment, unless the Lord
calls us somewhere else. Our graduation is in heaven, where Jesus would
welcome us and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”
Our community is the body of Christ here on earth. It can be a great
witness for non-believers to see people of different race, age, location
and religion to be caring, loving and serving one another. If we do not
live our lives well, our community can be a great scandal to people outside
looking in. How can our community grow in holiness and zeal for God and
become mature? Its members need to grow in holiness and zeal for God and
become mature. We all need to set our focus on God, who called us to live
this particular way of life, and not on the faults, weaknesses and sins
of our brothers and sisters. If we do, then it will only be a matter of
time before we give up. God is the source of all grace, and we need
to fix our eyes on God in order to live our call in our imperfect community.
I believe that it is God, by His great love and mercy to us, who formed
our Christian community. It is by His grace that we can love, serve and
live the way of life He has called us into. He is the one who sustains
us and makes us grow to become mature men and women of God. Yes,
we may need to talk with our leaders on improving how our community functions
and also work on some of our relationships to restore them, but let us
embrace our imperfect community, made up of imperfect brothers and sisters.
Let us be faithful to our call to the end. Heaven is our true home, but
God has gifted us a temporary home here on earth – our sick, deficient
and imperfect Christian community.
Tom Caballes is the National
Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb
of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located
throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos
New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university
Tom and his wife Mhel and
their two daughters live in Wellington, New Zealand.