Mark Fels’ exhortation to the Jesus Army about community love.
IN TRUE community we give our lives for each other. Does it hurt? Yes. Am I afraid? Yes. Am I comfortable? No. It’s a long and hard journey but, still, I want to give my life. The church is a family which cares for and sticks with each other, not just an organisation.
Paul writes: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Reasoning and arguments do not bring unity – love does. When we come together in love, God cannot resist our company – He wants to be a part of it.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalm 33). When we love each other, we are inviting Jesus in and He is in the midst of us; the Holy Spirit, God’s love outpoured, is among us. Jesus said that people will know us by our love.
The church’s hallmark is love.
Christian love is so different from the world’s way of loving; we don’t just love those who are like us. The love we have shines like a light and makes a difference to those around. Naturally, I love because I’m loved; I hug because I’m hugged; I resist if someone rejects me. True love, Jesus-love, gives itself away. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).
To give our lives is to step away from our own interests, privileges, rights, freedom and joys – for others’ sake. We have a hard time when we give up our lives and interests for others.
Paul writes of how Jesus gave up His rights as Son of God: He had everything – the glory and joy of heaven, living surrounded by angels with no lack of anything - and gave it all up to become a servant. He went to the cross and that wasn’t fun, kneeling in the garden, sweating blood, knowing it would cost Him all (Philippians 2: 1-11).
We, too, have to be prepared to do the most difficult thing we’re asked to do: to be ready to give up our life, our position and overcome our egoism, our selfishness. It’s tough.
We can live in community and act nice and friendly and not take on this hardship. We can live in community houses together and not have community.
If we want to cultivate intimacy with our brothers and sisters, we have to deal with fear. Relationships have to do with fear. It’s easy to have a nice mask but we must drop our masks, our weapons too, and be ready to be vulnerable and to get hurt. I know I’ve hurt people in community; I’ve been hurt too and I’ve found the people closest to you hurt you most.
We live “in the light” (1 John 1:7) as we make ourselves vulnerable. Living in this light is real community. The light shows up our weaknesses and as we live in community, our lacks are shown up; community also shows us the good things about ourselves, our gifts, our uniqueness and we understand our real identity in the light of God.
When we live together in the light, we are humble and aware of our weaknesses and our strengths. Everyone sees we are weak – including us leaders; together, we are walking into the light, into fear. The result is: we become true worshippers with our spirit (John 4:24).
A covenant and a contract are very different; in a contract we are stipulating our expectations; in a covenant the parties involved are ready to give their lives. For example, in the covenant of marriage, we are not expecting our partners to give us something. It’s all to do with sacrifice. I knew when I got married I needed God’s help. Covenant is important when good feelings have gone and the desert place is strong. Covenant love is not a feeling but a decision; it is not a burden but a privilege.
Community is not about a structured lifestyle. It’s about being ready to give my life for my brothers and sisters. Jesus said, “If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them” (Luke 6:29).
Are we ready to overcome the walls of excuses we build? Often walls are built up after bad experience. God wants to lead us into a new dimension; He wants to move in a new way in the Jesus Fellowship as you obey His call, take down the walls and allow Him to move freshly in your hearts. Let’s be ready to give everything for our brothers and sisters!
Mark Fels is the main leader of the Basivilla Community, Switzerland which is both part of the Vineyard church and a Multiply Network
Mark has valued the input from Multiply over the years and values the relationships made within the network, describing it as being about, ‘brotherhood relationships - not a system or a conference.’ Multiply has sourced him with examples to follow as well as some helpful advice, so helping him persevere when the going gets tough. Mark has found a role, too, in aiding the work of Multiply by supporting and encouraging others.
Community life is at the heart of Basivilla. Mark’s dream is that the Church at large gets interested in community life and that it becomes the heart of many churches, not just an add-on or experiment. Community life is for all – not just needy people who can’t live on their own. In this way, brotherly love will be restored in the western church