When believers discuss biblical community, we talk about it in different ways: doing life together, life on life, "one another"ing each other. While this sounds good in principle, we often get it wrong in practice. Here are 3 ways we can easily get it wrong and what to do about about it.
1. Just hanging out with other believers.
Just because you are surrounded by a group of believers, doesn't mean you are experiencing community. Community in the biblical sense has an element of discipleship to it. What I'm not saying here is that it's wrong for believers to hang out. Hanging out is good and needed. What I am saying is if we aren't intentional about sharing what's going on in our lives and allowing others to speak into it, we aren't truly loving and caring for one another.
2. Using our time together to whine and complain.
We aren't experiencing biblical community with other believers if all we do is whine and complain without being open to gospel correction. Sometimes we need to get things off our chests. But if we aren't open to how we may be viewing the situation or how to change it, we're just whining. Gospel community is about being open to change and growth. Whining is about making others feel sorry for you.
3. When you can't be honest.
Not being honest with one another means we don't really trust one another. If we don't trust one another, how can we expect to love each other? Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and honesty is a key component to establishing trust. Without trust and honesty we really don't have relationship.
If we aren't being honest about our struggles, we lose out on the biggest benefit of community - the help others can offer. If others aren't being honest with us, they are missing out on the help we could be to them. In either case, it's a missed opportunity to be blessed by others. When one approaches community this way, it is almost always motivated by selfish pride.
So now what?
In order for community to truly be gospel community it takes all participants being intentionally transparent. We have to have a level of intentionality about showing our weaknesses, faults, and struggles, because this goes against the grain of the way the world tells us to handle our problems. In true gospel community, it's only in showing our weaknesses that we open ourselves up to the possibility of growing strong. It's only in showing our faults that we show our need for the Savior. It's only is showing our struggles that we allow others to help.
Add to this kind of intentionality the idea of being transparent. Being transparent means not hiding anything we think others would find fault with. Being transparent is showing that we don't have it all figured out but we have a Savior who does. Being transparent allows others in to help us see things clearly and grow through our tough times.
If we are honest, this kind of transparency scares most of us. We have either been burned in the past by people we thought we could trust, or have been so frightened by rejection that we choose to hold back. The reality is transparency within gospel community brings about the best kind of freedom. The kind of freedom that allows us to be who we are; warts, blemishes, and all. This freedom puts us in the perfect spot for God's grace to truly transform us into His people. People that then go and help others find this same thing.