What is Christian community? Normally we only define it in terms of the present–who are the people that we know, worship and pray with. If we get radical, we also realize that community is not just about who we know and have relationship with but that it includes all Christians who are alive at the same time we are. Therefore, issues of division in the body matter…black & white, Baptist & Catholic…even though these go beyond our immediate set of relationships and local church.
Biblically speaking, community is all of this and so much more…
Not only are Christians called to live in community with those in the present but also the past and the future. When God would introduce himself in the Old Testament he would sometimes say, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." With that introduction He helps us to see that to know him is to know them as well–we live today in light of those who lived yesterday. In Hebrews 12, we are reminded of the "great cloud of witnesses" that cheer us on as we run the same race that they did. They view themselves as actively in communion with us and we are living for the day that we will join them–we live today in light of the relationships we will have in the future.
Some of our modern day view of community seems so myopic, self-centered and short-sighted.