In assessing current trends in our society, the word self is frequently mentioned.  Most appraisals speak of how strong the desire for individual rights is today.  For many, the concept of the good of others has been abandoned for "my rights.  Perhaps, this is why several books have been written by leading sociologists about the need for community.  In writing on this subject, they are not advocating communal living, but rather the need to be part of a group for mutual support, encouragement, and benefit.  The isolation such individualism creates has detrimental effects on both the person and society.  As God pointed out from the beginning, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him (Genesis 2:18, ASV).
     Being part of a community offers us benefits that would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to provide for ourselves individually.  There is provision for protection (offered by law enforcement officers, fire fighters, medical providers), which helps us feel secure in our physical well-being.  There is provision of food and water for physical needs, coupled with that of housing to shelter against the elements of nature.  There is also socialization, offering the blessings of friendship and interaction with those who share the same concerns and interests, a sense of belonging and having something positive to contribute to the lives of others.
     We can immediately recognize the importance of the Lord's church as a community as well.  The church is a community of believers in Christ joined together by a common bond; "that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).  As the body of Christ, we share a common goal and hope; "who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).  Paul speaks of the overall benefits that come to the body of Christ; "But speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:15-16).
     There is no greater fellowship than that which we share together in Christ.  By growing in our relationship with Christ as part of His body, we also grow as individual Christians, seeking to fulfill the potential we each have, for God's glory.  Truly the New Testament church offers to fill the void which self has created.  It is in Christ we find how to interact in the community around us, for its benefit and ours.  Jesus and His church is the only answer for a society looking for comfort and meaning in life.
Robert Johnson, Longview, TX